"Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned." William Butler Yeats
Sunday, December 15, 2013
How Is The Desolation Of Smaug?
I don't even know what has happened to the formatting of this post. I do apologize; some of you are probably like, it's been so long since she's posted, she's forgotten how; I don't blame you one bit for that,...
Gandalf has a stupendous role he has to balance in this film: with his role, we see an articulation in the difference between magic (like in Harry Potter) and power (which will come to full blossom in The Lord Of the Rings, after Gandalf has his huge fall and emerges as Gandalf the White). When Gandalf walks through Dol Guldur, the lines he says are similar--if not exact to--the prayers of exorcism; coincidence? I think not. There is really no way, between the Necromancer and the corrupt leader of Laketown, to not read this in a political context: spies, taxes, corruption, riots. But, more than that, is the overall structure of the soul's journey: who we are and who we become; as Gandalf tells Bilbo, he is no longer the same hobbit who was in the shire a few months ago.
This screenplay is just superior to what we saw in The Lord Of the Rings. It just keeps getting better, it's nearly 3 hours, and yet, when it ended, I felt my stomach fall because it was like, "NO! It can't be over yet!" The story line was excellent (even when it veers from the original narrative by JRR Tolkien) demonstrating that the numerous writers genuinely have a handle on all the dimensions of this story. I thought the acting was very good, especially Orlando Bloom who has an unusually strong presence on the screen, as well as Luke Evans. As you can imagine, Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen were outstanding; Benedict Cumberbatch is a perfect dragon. There is a TON of stuff going on in this screenplay (I do suggest watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey before The Desolation Of Smaug, if you can; the third installment is There and Back Again, due out in exactly one year) and overall, I am exceedingly pleased. It's just one more outstanding film for the year.
The last scene of An Unexpected Journey was that of a thrush banging a nut against a stone wall of the Lonely Mountain, deep within, Smaug awoke, hearing the noise; the question is, however, was it the noise, or something else waking Smaug? In this part of the story, from what Smaug discusses with Bilbo, it was the start of the prophecy falling into place, from the smallest details, to the grandest. No one experiences a "wilder" ride in this film than Thorin (pictured). When, towards the end, Thorin uncases stone surrounding a giant (and it's giant) statue of a pure gold dwarf king, that's Thorin, it's even Thorin's very soul at that moment (and that's why Smaug looks at it in such curiosity, it's not the Thorin he recognizes) but Thorin has done everything right (after holding a blade to Bilbo asking for the Arkenstone) and Thorin will not have a greater moment after this, it's because he has been such a brave, self-less leader during their attempt at killing Smaug that Thorin's stature has increased so much; sadly, however, it's not going to be enough. Bilbo and Gandalf, on the other hand, have purged themselves of so much sin and weakness, they really can't be killed, there is no evil/power/temptation strong enough to overcome them; we will probably see the exact opposite with Thorin however, given that Smaug has all ready predicted for us what will happen.
It's sad, however, the list of ultra-liberal films nominated for the Screen Actors Guild (a "guild" is a modern union); why is that important? Because actors are, essentially, voting for the roles they like the best, advertising the roles they themselves would like to be offered and play in so it increases the likelihood that more such roles will be written for dominating actors (because they hope if you have a big-name actor in a role, the film will do well, so to get a big-name actor, offer them the type of role they seem most likely to take, which is on display at the SAG awards). I am also disappointed to discover that in American Hustle, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence kiss each other, which leads us to something else that has happened this past week,....
Talk about a complex character: when he's trying to strike a deal with Thorin, and his skin melts away to reveal horrible burn marks from dragon fire, it adds a truly sinister dimension to this character. When he and Legolas question the Orc they have captured, and he promises to free the Orc, then kills him instead, it suggests that this act, like the burn marks on his face, "exposes" his real "decayed" state beneath his royal robes (rather like the Stewards in The Lord Of the Rings). We should be prepared for him to have to battle a villain in the next installment because Legolas is battling an Orc with a blind eye, revealing to us the audience that Legolas himself has been "blinded" regarding Tauriel and her affection towards Kili; when Legolas realizes the battle with the half-blind Orc has caused his nose to start bleeding, I think he has pulled himself together and decided he's not going to be ridiculous, but what happens with Tauriel and Kili remains to be seen because that isn't in the book (and maybe Legolas realizes he can't be with Tauriel anyway, since she doesn't appear in The Lord Of the Rings).
Rest in peace, Paul Walker, who was laid to rest this weekend, Peter O'Toole, who just passed away today, and Joan Fontaine who also passed away: Eternal rest grant unto them, O'Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them; may they rest in peace. Amen.
The Fine Art Diner