Courage is found in unlikely places…

Following on from my last post….

It’s here! The first trailer has landed!

And boy, was it worth the wait. I’m actually glad that I knew the release date beforehand, as it allowed me to slowly build the tension and excitement I got from the first glimpse back into Middle Earth. Still, I’m not entirely sure that my heart will hold out on this film, looking at the trailer, still…. I must have courage!

So, as promised in the last blog, I’m going to write a review of the trailer. Being the logical person that I am, I have decided to split the discussion into 6 separate sections; the shots (actual film footage used in the trailer), the cutting, the voice over, the music, the tone, and finally my overall reaction to the trailer.

Thus, without further ado, let’s get going with this!

  1. The Shots

Now, I’ve gone through and looked at this trailer with a fine tooth comb, and this is what I have discovered and thought about the shots. BEWARE: this goes on for a long time, like, 4 pages in a word document long time. In no way should you feel obliged to read it as it’s just my comings and goings.

  • Bilbo sitting in Erebor, with someone standing in the background of the shot with a single shot of light falling on them and a table. Now, this shot does intrigue me. My guess is it is from after Smaug is killed, and perhaps after later tragic events (I won’t say them here as, you know, spoilers!), and that Bilbo is sitting staring into space in a state of shock at what has happened. My main question though is, who is that in the background, and what is on the table? My initial impression was that is Galadriel, but pausing the trailer here the shape looks wrong, so I don’t have much lead on that front. It kind of looks like whoever it is wearing some form of shoulder pads due to the way the light is bouncing, but I can’t be sure so can’t make any solid guesses. Similarly, my first impression was that there were flowers on the table, but once again they are too much in the background and so I can’t really make it out. Still, I am intrigued!
  • Bilbo saying “one day, I’ll remember” to someone. It’s only for a fleeting second, but I think I caught a glimpse of curly black hair there, so maybe it is Bard.
  • Tauriel turning towards camera. Looking at this shot, I think it’s in deep winter in Dale, and so with what looks like a gang of men defending an archway in the background, my assumption is that this is part of the actual Battle of the Five Armies. Also, the Dale set in snow looks beautiful!
  • Gandalf riding a horse into a crowded courtyard. Now, this shot was difficult because it’s both moving and over quickly. Once again, my guess is that this is Dale as it looks like Men in the foreground. They also seem to be pulling on chains so I suggest this is before the Battle begins, and they’re making the necessary preparations, suggesting that Gandalf returns from Dol Guldur right before the battle begins. After all, a wizard is never late! And which means that whatever jazz went down in Dol Guldur took an awful long time to sort out (unsurprisingly!).
  • Smaug burning Laketown. This, without a doubt, is what I believe to be the money shot in the trailer. I thought the Laketown set was wonderful in DOS, but that wonder was always tinged with a sense of regret in that it would, ultimately, become no more than a pile of ash. Still, it looks like they’ve handled the burning of the lake well, and it really clearly shows how gigantic Smaug actually is. Truly, the lake will shine and burn. I think this must pick up right where DOS left off, as the lighting seems about right, although I must ask, where have all the Men of Laketown gone, it seems awfully…..unpanicked. Did they get some sort of warning?
  • Legolas and Tauriel looking towards the smouldering wreck of Laketown from an encampment. I like this shot as I feel it shows some more of the relationship between Legolas and Tauriel, and I’m interested with where they’re going to take this in BOFA as there is no mention of Tauriel in LOTR. I also appreciate the chaos that seems to be conveyed in this shot, just like there would be in a the aftermath of a real disaster.
  • Streams of people walking over hills away from Laketown which burns. Pretty obvious in my opinion, the surviving residents of Laketown fleeing the desolation. I love the scenery in this shot, which looks like it is in part at least, New Zealand.
  • Dwarves running down a staircase in Erebor. Based on later shots, I’m not sure on this one chronologically- is it before or after Smaug is killed? I can’t tell. I really like these wide shots of Erebor though, as when I read the books yonks ago I never really appreciated how big it must be. I mean, it’s the inside of a mountain. And until I saw this I didn’t grasp how big an area that must be…. Impressive, as I’m a geography teacher and should have some sort of grasp on mountain scale!
  • Kili, Ori and (looking at the shoes and coat colour) Balin raising a statue of a dwarven warrior or King. With Kili being in armour, my guess is that this is preparations for the Battle (those who have read the books will know why I saw before and not after). Still, I wonder why they feel the need to move the statue- could they be resurrecting it? Or are they going to be using it in the defence of…. Wherever it is. It’s not Dale, based on what Dale looked like in AUJ, and it’s not Laketown as it’s majority wood not stone. The gates of Erebor maybe?
  • Bard looking seriously into the distance. I can’t tell a lot here, except maybe it’s in Dale looking at the stonework. Potentially with Dwarves as they do seem considerably shorter than Bard. Mind you, anything with Bard in is a good thing in my opinion. Even in the books he was one of my favourite characters, and his portrayal by Luke Evans is perfect, if not a bit more angry than I imagine.
  • Thranduil walking through the aftermath of a battle. Again, aftermath of the actual Battle of Five Armies as I’m definitely seeing dead elves, orcs/goblins and potentially a hunk of Warg in there. I really do like this shot as I think Thranduil’s armour is beautiful, and also he seems confused by the death around him- as elves are immortal (save death through injury), this may be one of the first times he’s witnessed the death of his brethren (or at least in this number), which must be quite overwhelming. I also think it’s a beautifully poetic foreshadowing of the look Legolas has in FOTR when Boromir dies.
  • Galadriel walking through a battle aftermath and kissing an unconscious Gandalf on the head. Although, having said that and looking at the injuries, I think Gandalf is actually in Dol Guldur. And whether Galadriel is really there or if it’s a saving-Frodo-before-Shelob type thing, I don’t know. Well, we can but wait and see!
  • Dwarves overlooking the treasure hoard. Yeah, pretty standard. Not a lot to say about that.
  • Thorin looking shifty. Good shot from the viewpoint that I think this begins to show the dragon sickness really taking hold of Thorin, and his character development at this point in the book really is one of my favourite parts of the book- the fall followed by the final resolution and peace. Beautiful.
  • Fully armoured Dwarves marching past Bilbo and Thorin. Holy moly, dwarves in armour. Love it! The grim look on all their faces as well just gets me. And Bilbo not in armour- I like this, as although he does go into battle in the book, I never saw him as being one of the front line troops as it were. Only problem, I’d appreciate the cut being slightly earlier so that I could see more than the back of my dwarf love (Fili, for anyone who is wondering).
  • Legolas and Bard standing close and Legolas looking away. Again, back in the encampment after Smaug has burnt Laketown. I’m interested to see the relationship between these two. I imagine Bard will be grateful to Legolas for protecting his children (inadvertently), but annoyed that he ran off from Laketown to chase Azog. A somewhat fictitious relationship there I think.
  • Armoured Elves parting for Bard. Bard shot again, so I love it anyway. Also, how the Elves are acknowledging Bard I think will be a significant turning point for him in terms of coming to understand that whilst he already knows the people of Laketown need protecting, it is he who has the power to lead the people. My guess it’s after Smaug is killed by the reverie in which the Elves seem to be acknowledging him.
  • Bilbo leaning against a pillar as a battle wages around him. Ah, Bilbo…. I appreciate this from the viewpoint as it really shows that Bilbo doesn’t necessarily feel he belongs in battle. We see him as the timid hobbit we first see him as, yet he cannot appreciate the bravery and stout-heart that he has.
  • Balin? Riding a goat drawn sled with Wargs coming head on. There are also two others on the sled but I can’t figure out who they are, and I really don’t have much lead on what this is about. A diversion? An escape?
  • Bard shouting at Thorin? Yay for Bard, still protecting the people. You can see the fear and anguish in his eyes here.
  • Thorin in crown and armour. Kili behind. Now earlier, I was talking about the dragon sickness, and I think this shot shows the point where Thorin really has succumbed to it. Very little of the “never have I been so wrong in all my life” Thorin is left here. He seems so driven by the need to reclaim Erebor. I think Kili knows this too, judging by his expression. Oh, I can’t wait to see Thorin’s development here!
  • Thranduil fighting: usual Elvish epic skills. Again, love the armour.
  • Legolas looking and turning: I’m sorry, but the only thing I can think here (as I do with most Legolas shots), is what on earth have they done with his eyes?! They really freak me out!
  • A flying cart. Not sure who is in it. I thought Bard at first, but then I think the people ducking in the foreground, by their costume at least, look like Bard and Bain.
  • Kili fighting. Enough said. Young and reckless.
  • Azog shouting at the oncoming swarm of orc-goblins. I really appreciate the glimpse of the size of the army here, and also just how much like ants they look, as I like the work that Terry Notary did in The Hobbit to make sure each race has their own distinct movement.
  • Azog approaching a terrified looking Bilbo who is grasping Sting. Now, wouldn’t it be something if Bilbo was actually the one to slay Azog? I think I’d actually be okay with that, as it shows that hobbits really are made of sterner stuff than appearances suggest. Also, I do believe that Bilbo has the Mithril shirt on here, so this must be pretty late in the film.
  • Armoured Dwarves riding mountain goats. Anything that rides goats is good by me!!
  • Bard leading a group of men and ferociously swinging a sword. Finally, Bard is leading, and there’s the character development I was looking out for. The character developments in The Hobbit (and also LOTR) really are one of the things that I appreciate most in Tolkien’s writing. It makes the characters so much more approachable. Also, where did Bard get that sword- it’s lovely!
  • The Eye. The eye is still, after 10+ years amazing and still fills me with dread (it’s pretty frightening and slightly scarring when you’re 11 years old). ‘Nough said!
  • Dwarves running into Erebor. I think that this may link to the Balin on the cart scene. The lighting looks right, as does the proliferation of snow and ice. Again, what they’re running to or from, I couldn’t say.
  • Lots of Elven arches poised to loose a volley. Anyone else getting flashbacks to the flashback at the start of FOTR here, except with slightly more sombre armour?
  • All the dwarves and Bilbo standing together listening to Thorin. Now, whilst Smaug burning down Laketown is, in my opinion, the moneyshot, this is my personal favourite shot from the trailer. I love having the shots where all the Dwarves are lined up together (incidentally, my favourite shot in DOS is when they all line up in front of the hidden door). You can see the beautiful design work to make each Dwarf individual, and a lot of the friendship/family units. I think also in this shot you can see in their faces that there is only one answer to the question which Thorin is asking of them. I find it interesting as well that only Fili, Kili and Dwalin are in armour here, and not the full armour we see in earlier shots, so I think this is a lot before the actual Battle of the Five Armies. This shot is tinged with sadness though, as I know that this will probably be one of the last shots we see all the Dwarves together before ‘it’ happens. Sad, sad times (seriously, I’m taking a box of tissues with me to the cinema- ROTK had me blubbering and this is going to be far worse as it revolves around my favourite Middle-Earth characters).
  • Gandalf in front of the Elven archers. Much the same thought as with the last archers shot. However, has Gandalf now got Radaghast staff? I know Gandalf’s got destroyed by the Necromancer, and so it makes sense for Radaghast to pass on his staff to Gandalf as Radaghast knows that Gandalf will, without a doubt, go to the Dwarves and Bilbo despite the danger that awaits him there, but where does this leave Radaghast? Staffless? Where is he? Also, I think this is actually (with some modifications) the staff the Gandalf has in LOTR, suggesting it is now returned to Radaghast. Why? Intriguing…
  • Legolas and Tauriel perching behind a rock, possibly with the Lonely Mountain behind. The character of Tauriel, I like, and regardless of what my own first thoughts were (as well as a lot of Tolkeinites) about Jackson introducing a whole new character, I do like her. She definitely does add something. However, Legolas…. Never really liked him as much as other characters. Too perfect. And there’s not a lot I can tell from sitting behind rocks and spying.

dwarves outside hidden door

My favourite shot from DOS

So, there’s my reaction to the shots. That has taken about an hour and a half to write, and is far longer than I initially anticipated. But still, I hope that gives you some ideas about my initial impressions of the actual footage shown. Because that’s so long, I’m really going to try and keep the following sections succinct. Partly because otherwise that’s an awful lot of reading, and also it’s 2am. I need sleep!

2. The cutting.

I like the fact that the shots seem to be going out of chronological order here as it doesn’t give too much away, and even if you do try and sort into some form of time-dependent order, the choice of shots still doesn’t give too much away- exactly what a trailer should be. For me personally, I feel the actual written info about the film could have been placed a bit more carefully, because as a fan, I was too focused on what was happening in the shots to actually comprehend what they said. I think I only actually read them the third or fourth time I watched it. There’s a nice spreading of characters across the shots, although a little more of Dwarves other than Thorin and Kili would be appreciated and a little more Bilbo, as well, this is his story.

3. The voice over.

Holy moly, I love this! Bilbo’s words although few, are so wrapped in emotion and subtle references that to anyone who has read the book, they’re heartbreaking. For me especially, as two of my all time favourite characters from the book don’t make it, those words really hit me right in the feels. I am now resigned to the fact that I should wear no eye make up when I see this film. Also, Thorin’s words towards the end of the trailer- both “I will have war” and “Will you follow me? One last time” and wonderful from my point of view, as they show the fall and eventual resurrection of Thorin’s character in the books, which really is one of my all time favourite character development lines, both inside and outside the works of Tolkien.

4. The music

The lack of music in the opening portion of the teaser is great in my opinion as it allows Bilbo’s words really to hit home, and as this is really Bilbo’s story, they need to, and the audience are gently reminded of this fact. The music really comes in with Pippin’s (Billy Boyd) song entitled Edge of Night (or A Walking Song for those who have read Rings). When ROTK, this song more than any got stuck in my head due to it’s simplicity of writing coming from the pen of Tolkien, and the haunting melody which Boyd put it to. As such, I am really happy to hear it used again. Even more so from the viewpoint that Bilbo supposedly wrote this song based on events which happened in his own “adventures”. It fits wonderfully with the sombre mood of the trailer and really captures the viewer in it’s simplicity. Other than that, there’s the traditional whooshing metallic whoosh sound (I’ve no idea what instrument made that sound, sorry) that always comes with the title at the end of the Hobbit/Rings trailers. A trailer wouldn’t be a trailer without it!

5. General tone

Compared to the trailers for AUJ and DOS, this one does appear to be a lot more gritty and sombre, especially compared to AUJ. Personally, I like this as it marks a shift in the tone of the novel to a more dark and Rings-esque time. I do have a niggling worry though that maybe it moves slightly too far into the realm of war and suffering, as it must be remembered that above all else, The Hobbit is a children’s book, and so I worry that in the desire to make the Battle of the Five Armies suitably epic, Jackson has forgotten this simple fact. Still, as I said, I think it does move the series nicely towards the more adult LOTR end of the spectrum.

6. Overall reaction

For me, everything I wanted for a teaser trailer is in here- suspense, fleeting glimpses into what is to come, delicate suggestion of the path of Thorin and Bilbo, and a desire to see more. The cutting is clever, if not a little undermining of the info about the film itself, the music has a sombre tone which matches the moving images perfectly, and it does, as per Jackson style, promise to be suitably epic.


Now, that is one looooooong blog post. Like I said earlier, please do not feel obilged to read the whole of it (especially the analysis of footage, which even as I read it back, I realise makes little sense and doesn’t add too much to the post other than wordage… but it’s 2am and I have a stack of lesson plans I need to get done tomorrow, so I’m not chaning it!), but maybe some hard core Tolkien fans out there will appreciate it.

Next time, I promise I’ll do something shorter- an account of my favourite Hobbit and LOTR characters maybe. Also, please excuse any typographical errors. Like I said, it’s 2am!

Once more, if you have any suggestions for posts please let me know and I will oblige where possible.

So until we next meet my Rohirrim compadres-

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”

~ Suzy