As the semester comes to a close, students have a lot to look forward to: reunion with family and friends back home, Momma’s cooking, and a full night’s sleep, for instance. But for many, the opening of “The Hobbit” tops the list. Anticipation for the movie, which comes out in the United States on Dec. 14, is high among both Hillsdale students and faculty.
Donald Turner, professor of philosophy, said he is “cautiously hopeful” for the “Hobbit” movie, based on what Peter Jackson did with “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
That mix of optimism and caution is echoed by junior Josiah Kollmeyer.
“I am very excited about it,” he said. “I know that Peter Jackson, in ‘The Lord of The Rings’ movies, did a great job of making an epic world for Middle Earth, but I’m concerned that to get the requisite material for three films Peter Jackson will just make stuff up and add in material that is not Tolkien’s.”
Junior Ian Swanson said he sympathizes with Kollmeyer’s perspective but still looks forward to the movie.
“I’m so thoroughly excited, it goes beyond words,” Swanson said, “While I understand that people are concerned with how far from the books the movie may go, I am really excited to see how Peter Jackson brings to life such a beautiful world.”
Swanson accepts that there will be textual infidelity.
“I recognize that the ‘The Hobbit’ is not going to be 100 percent true to the book,” he said. “But you can never expect a movie to be 100 percent true to the book and still be a blockbuster, especially something as deep as ‘The Hobbit.’”
Associate Professor of English John Somerville,who is not a Tolkien fan to begin with, does not see the point of making the film at all.
“I have seen what appeared to be a trailer for the film, and it was only by marshaling great reserves of inner strength that I was able to watch the whole thing through,” he said. “ Nothing about the movie interests me.”
Somerville said he looks forward instead to the forthcoming adaptation of “Anna Karenina” or Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder.”
“I’d probably even be happier with a documentary about the history of hair,” he said. “But please, anything but a movie about magic dwarves.”
Some students are simply very excited.
“Eager anticipation you might say,” junior Jonathan Slonim said, describing his feelings regarding the coming movie. “Joy. Effervescence. It’s the event to which I’ve been looking forward to more than any event in the last year and a half.”
Peter Jackson and the production team have periodically released movie trailers and video blog posts to give fans a glimpse of the film-making process and the finished product. Kollmeyer has not been watching the blog, though he has seen the trailers. Swanson, on the other hand, says he has watched every video the studio has put up multiple times.
Many actors from the “Lord of the Rings” films, including Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving, are reprising their roles in “The Hobbit.” British actor Martin Freeman, best known for the role of Dr. Watson in BBC’s “Sherlock” is playing Bilbo Baggins.
“I’m really pleased with the casting,” Swanson said. “Martin Freeman — I am huge ‘Sherlock’ fan, so I’m pumped.”
Kollmeyer hopes that “The Hobbit” sparks an interest in Tolkien’s literature.
“’The Lord of the Rings’ films were good but the books improve your soul,” Kollmeyer said. “Anything to encourage people to read them, I would support. That might be the best thing about the ‘Hobbit’ movies: if it encourages more people to read the books.”
With the first movie coming out during Hillsdale finals week, students planning to watch the film as soon as possible have to take that into consideration.
“I’ll be driving an hour-and-a-half to Lansing to see it in Imax at midnight, but I have a final at 8 a.m. for Dr. Birzer the next morning,” said Slonim. “Sleep is unlikely that night. I’m going to go see it again that Friday.”
Slonim did try and see if he could adjust school for the sake of the movies.
“I went up to Dr. Birzer, and I told him: ‘Dr. Birzer, I love your class, and I’ll be taking your test at 8 a.m.. But I’m going to ‘The Hobbit’ at midnight in Lansing. I was wondering if maybe I can take your test earlier with one of your Heritage classes?’ To which he replied: ‘I’ll check the schedule. But I’ll tell you your chances would be much better if you were rereading the book.’”
Kollmeyer is taking a more conservative approach to seeing the movie.
“There is a slim chance I’ll go Friday night because I don’t have exams,” he said. “But I do have to pack and may just go home. If I don’t see it Friday night, I’ll definitely go see it with my family.”
Swanson, like Slonim, plans on seeing the film right away.
“I’m planning on driving to Ann Arbor for the midnight premier, or wherever they are showing it in its full specifications (the films will be 3D as well double the standard frame rate in some theaters) closest,” he said.
Swanson, however, is somewhat conflicted about the viewing process.
“A part of me doesn’t want to go to the midnight premier because I want to go home and reread the book first,” he said.“But I might watch the movie and then go back and reread the book and then watch it again, because I’m going to watch it at least twice over break.”