Sunday, July 13, 2014

Synopsis & Trailer Release: The Hobbit 3: Battle Of the Five Armies

Luke Evans as Bard the boatman. In the forthcoming posts (that is, those posts I still have not finished) I demonstrate that all the characters in the book and films are actually doubles for Bard who, I contend, is the real hero of the story, whereas Bilbo Baggins and the wizard Gandalf are actually representations of Bard himself, divided so that we can understand his soul and that his "destiny" isn't to kill Smaug, rather, his destiny is to become virtuous in all his endeavors so that he is strong enough to kill Smaug. In The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug, the mayor of the town (Stephen Fry) contends that it was Gideon, Bard's ancestor, who failed to kill the dragon when Smaug first came to occupy the Lonely Mountain; from the very first scene--when there is the cameo of director Peter Jackson himself stepping out into the rain, taking a bite out of a carrot, a perfect, deep cameo!--to the last scene we saw in the second film, everything has accumulated to support that Smaug the destroyer is the ravage of socialism which the previously generation (the "Greatest Generation" and the baby boomers) have not been able to kill, so it falls to the younger generation to finally complete the deed. This is most dramatically demonstrated in the rise of Sauron, the "Necromancer" who, like socialism coming to America, all thought was "dead," but who has built up his strength in the blindness of his enemies and now seeks to take over the world. As we see in the image above, Bard prepares to shoot an ordinary arrow from his bow; all the strength of his virtue, however, will be gathered to make the Black Arrow hit its mark and that, we shall detail, is the very same task each and every single one of us is called to make our own as well. On a slightly different note, when the second Hobbit film opened, Thorin had been searching for his father, and originally, from the research I have been able to do, Billy Connolly was cast to play Thorin's father who shows up at the battle of the Lonely Mountain, but that was changed, and Connolly is now cast as Dain II; symbolically, this is important, because Thorin's father would be a symbol of "founding fathers" but Dain II has an imperative role to play, and I am confident it will be political so we will have a chance to compare Connolly's role to his would-be role.
Well, it has certainly taken a long time for this tidbit to be released. It has been officially announced that the first trailer for The Hobbit: the Battle Of Five Armies will not be released until October (again, this is partly due to new theatrical rules instituting the guideline that trailers cannot be released more than 5 months ahead of the anticipated release date for the film, and they cannot be more than 2 minutes--many films were two-and-a-half, some even three minutes long--and production companies cannot display marketing materials for a film more than four months ahead of the release date. Here, finally, is the official synopsis for the final installment of The Hobbit 3 film, due out in December:

The final installment of "The Hobbit" series will bring to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and the Company of Dwarves [sic]. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo's frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves [sic], Elves and Men must decide - unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

This is off-topic, however, Ian aMcKellen is in both films. There is now word on when the film is due out, merely referred to as Mr. Holmes at this point, but we do have a bit of a synopsis: Based on a novel by Mitch Cullin, the film details the story of a long-retired Sherlock Holmes haunted by an unsolved case from fifty years ago. He remembers only fragments: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife. With his legendary mental powers on the wane, and without his old sidekick Watson, Holmes is faced with the toughest case of his life. (N.B.: fans of the series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman--both who are also in The Hobbit films--will be getting a treat from the series: a Christmas special. The producers have announced they will have a one-show special to release in-between the last season 3 episode and the upcoming season 4 just to help fans until they can get the next season out).
For those of us who have read the book, this sounds very much like what we would expect (with the exception, of course of some additional characters and part of the company of dwarfs still being in the town). Fans of JRR Tolkien have been divided between saying that director Peter Jackson has "largely" kept to the original story, or has "largely" deviated from the original story; I believe, unlike with what I felt were some gross liberties he took in The Lord Of the Rings, that he has remained remarkably true to Tolkien's The Hobbit. Why is this important? The homage to "the written word" which we have seen with all the stories being brought back to life as of late (Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, I, Frankenstein, Maleficent, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful based on literary works of the Victorian era, Sherlock, based on the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and the up-coming Dracula Untold and Cinderella, to name a few). Why is this important?
The official poster for The Hobbit 3 (you may click on it to enlarge it for better viewing). It is simple, but that doesn't mean it isn't profound.  Two colors, black and gold, and two fonts, the chiseled look of the words "The Hobbit" and then the clean, simple font of the sub-title. Black, as we know, is the color of death: either a person is "dead to the world" and alive to the spirit, or they are "dead to the spirit" and alive to the things of the world (as a part of the "organic nature" of symbols, black--in elaborating upon the means of achieving the "death of the spirit," also refers to the "dark night of the soul" when one has been seemingly abandoned to horrible circumstances and there is no light of hope to guide you, although that's when the spirit rids itself of all its weakness and becomes strongest; we can easily see this concept at work through the novel and the two installments of the film so far thus released). Against this backdrop of death, "Hobbit" takes up nearly the entire width, suggesting that Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit in The Hobbit, is enlarging himself and is finding himself expanding in this black area (there is also the detail of "Black Speech," the language of the Orcs and other foul creatures which we shall discuss in a moment). The words, "The Hobbit" appear to be chiseled out of some strong substance, perhaps stone, and because the words reference Bilbo Baggins, we can take the words to be a symbol for Bilbo Baggins (the way the glass slipper is a symbol for Cinderella in Kenneth Branaugh's trailer for the film). Just as the words appear to be chiseled out of stone, so Bilbo Baggins has been "chiseled" out of the events of his adventure, and, as Gandalf says, he's "not the same hobbit who left the shire," and we can see that in the letter "T" at the end of "Hobbit." A small chunk has been removed from that letter, right about where the heart is, and that might reference the innocence--not the purity--but the innocence Bilbo has lost which the shelter of the shire maintained. The letter "O," after the "H," we know can also stand for the ring, the ring that is The Ring, and it has become a part of Bilbo, too, not only because he finds it and uses it, but also because he becomes one of its keepers (as Frodo does in The Lord Of the Rings). We can't, however, overlook the obvious fact that this is written in gold: the gold could refer to the gold that Bilbo was promised at the start of his journey by Thorin's Company, or it could refer to the gold of The Ring, or the gold over which Smaug keeps watch, or even the little chest of gold from the Trolls' cave,... or it could refer to something else entirely. While the gold most certainly invokes monetary gold, the kind that will be the ruin of Thorin Oakenshield, and the gold of The Ring that has all ready nearly been the ruin of Bilbo in Mirkwood Forest when they battle the spiders and Bilbo drops The Ring and has to kill some bizarre beast (a beast that crawls out of a hole and "threatens" to take The Ring from Bilbo is actually a "double" for Bilbo, a part of Bilbo's character that has been made tangible for us to see so we can understand how his soul is in jeopardy because of what The Ring is doing to him, and so Bilbo can see it as well). Because we know that Bilbo has faced every challenge and danger with courage, fortitude and honor, we can say that the gold letting demonstrates the achievement of Bilbo's advance in virtue, that his soul has been purged of the weakness and impurities he had before he started out on the journey, so Bilbo is approaching a state of perfection. Now, by "perfection," we do not mean he is going to become perfect, rather, as the words "The Hobbit" take up the expanse of black--the gold "comes out of the black" because Bilbo's virtue comes out of the suffering and troubles and hardship he experiences upon the journey--so the golden virtues are taking up the entirety of Bilbo's character and making it less and less likely that he will do anything that is less than honorable, less than virtuous, less than heroic. Now, the comparatively plain font in which "The Battle Of the Five Armies" is written is a contradiction: a battle in which there are five armies fighting is hardly anything most people would consider "plain," so the smaller and plainer font in which this epic ordeal is written communicates to us that that's how we are supposed to read it beside the larger and more elaborately written "The Hobbit":  the hobbit in the story is more important and bigger than the five armies or the battle that is going to take place in the film and while it forms as it were the foundation ("Hobbit" almost rests or sits on top of The Battle Of the Five Armies) it's the story of Bilbo that will rise above the battle the film will depict.
One of the primary contributions to literary theory made by the father of Deconstruction theory Jacques Derrida, as the recognition that Western civilization is largely constructed upon dichotomies of opposites: man and woman, white and black, right and wrong, rich and poor, etc., but the most important of these opposites is present and absent. Western civilization places a greater emphasis--a greater value and priority--on that which is present, rather than absent, hence, we place a greater emphasis also on the spoken word--you have to be present to speak--rather than on writing which is a sign of absence (you cannot be there so you write a note in place of your presence and ability to speak on your own behalf). This is all nice, but why is it important? There are two reasons.
This is an image of one of the dinosaurs that will be featured in Jurassic Park IV. Why discuss it here? It's an on-going symbol we are seeing in numerous films. Reptiles, as a group, will almost always refer back to the Serpent in Eden, unless the work in which the reptile is being represented takes pains to establish an alternative reading for the symbol (the perfect case in point is The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who are reptiles but obviously do not symbolize the serpent, rather, how to overcome the serpent: turtles are often seen as symbols of meditation and wisdom, because they "retreat within themselves" the way a wise person will retreat within themselves and away from the world). Whether it's the alligator Hushpuppy's mother shoots in Beasts Of the Southern Wild, the T-Rex Optimus Prime tames in Transformers 4, the fire-breathing dragons of Maleficent or Smaug, or the serpent depicted in Noah, or the gargantuan Godzilla, all these reptiles in some way summon to our mind the imagery of the Serpent and Original Sin (some more than others).  Smaug, in The Hobbit films, is most definitely a Serpent figure because the gold over which he guards as his own is the virtue of Thorin's and the company's souls that such an adventure would help them acquire but Smaug will see that they don't because then he would lose their souls (recall, if you will, the initial conversation between Bilbo and Smaug when Smaug thinks about letting Thorin have the gold to watch it destroy him, more on that below). Each of the representations need to be discussed in their unique contexts, however, we have to keep awares that all these various and differing films are incorporating the same symbols and symbolic vehicles, begging for comparisons between them.
First, all these films and shows named above, acknowledge that there is a written source, a primary beginning, an original; even as changes are made to the "adaptation," as they are called, it pays homage to the original that gave the adaptation birth because it demonstrates that the original was true, and reflecting the truth. Secondly, in a work like the pro-socialist film Maleficent, when the narrator tells you that "Now you are going to learn what really happened," they acknowledge the original, but blame the original for falsifying "the truth," and the truth can only be learned here and now as we are being told the truth. On the other hand, a film based upon a book like The Hobbit, uses the written word as a validation of the story itself, i.e., because there is an original written source, it cannot be disputed and the past which the written word invokes becomes its own value, e.g., because it's old, and we still look to it, that in and of itself demonstrates value (Exodus: Gods and Kings, the newest Ridley Scott film, also coming out in December, puts the name of the Biblical book in the very title because it's so important--regardless of which way the film will go--the film makes sure that we know there is a written source of this story that gives it validation and accreditation); so why is this important?
The tables have been turned.
Permit me to make an important note: while Derrida himself was rather radical in his politics, what certain groups did with Deconstruction and other aspects of his philosophy in applying it to social conditions is not necessarily keeping with what Derrida's formal works were actually researching: if you read Of Grammatology or Differance, you won't necessarily see what has become the vehicle of the Left because of how they have molded it to fit their needs; this is imperative because, just like the original story of Sleeping Beauty and the massive changes film makers applied to Maleficent, the Left will do this with anything.  On an entirely different note, another theme running throughout films, which bears political importance, is the searching for the makers, the creators. In Ridley Scott's Prometheus, the film ends with Noomi Rapace's character going in search of the "creators" and we can safely assume we will see the same with Moses (Christian Bale) in Exodus: Gods and Kings when Moses goes in search of his true identity and relationship to the people of Israel and their God. Likewise, at the end of Transformers IV, Optimus Prime leaves earth to go in search of the Transformers' creators to challenge them (I hope to go see Dinesh D'Souza's America tomorrow or Tuesday, and I expect, from the cast list, that there will be a search for the American founding fathers, which is what all this is really about; it's also possible that with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there will be discussion about their creation as well). The reason conservatives embrace the Founding Fathers is not because they were white; not because they were rich; not because they were Protestants; the reason we embrace the Founding Fathers is because they heroically reacted to a repeating tyranny in history, namely, that a few should rule the many through force. Remembering what they stood for, and against, reminds us that we will face this repeatedly throughout history those same struggles in one form or another and for the sake of our rights, enshrined in the Constitution--the written word, the original, the one from which all the others come--and the Bill of Rights, we unite ourselves to them and the same cause.
Deconstruction is seen as a philosophical position whereby minorities--ethic minorities and women--can undermine the political power of rich white men who keep all the resources for themselves; now, however, with the advancing political doctrines of socialism (the so-called "system of the poor" which women and minorities espouse) attempting to indoctrinate Americans in an ever-more public discourse, capitalists have re-grouped around the "old dichotomies" that liberals started policing in the 1960s, demonstrating the fallacies of deconstruction in its social applications: if writing is an example of Western Civilization investing an inherently negative meaning (for lack of a better phrase, but the Left would agree with the phrase) into "writing," by continuously citing the original texts in modern adaptations, it demonstrates that capitalists habitually bring the past--the original writings, as with The Hobbit--and fuse it with the contemporary interpretations and adaptation for the modern need, thereby, neither present (the modern interpretation of the work) having any greater value over the past (the written word) because it's made clear that, without the past, the lesser-valued written article, the contemporary article could not be fashioned. So, what does this mean?
We will thoroughly explore Thorin Oakenshield in the upcoming posts, however, the poster above is most revealing about what we can expect of Thorin's fate and why. As described above with Bilbo and the gold over which Smaug guards, Thorin, too, is called to cultivate virtue and nobility; we know this because, when (in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) the story of Thorin is related to Bilbo, the Dwarfs were failing but Thorin's bravery was commemorated with a new name, "Oakenshield," displaying his new vocation that he had taken upon himself in protecting his people; the thing is, however, you can't protect others unless you are protected yourself. For example, throughout the entire journey, Thorin has spoken and thought badly of Bilbo--he's thanked him a couple of times, but Smaug reveals that Thorin prefers the Arkenstone to Bilbo's safety--and that is the great downfall of Thorin: he's not just greedy, he's proud. Thorin's two greatest moments are when he fights Azog in the battle and then, in The Desolation Of Smaug, when Thorin stands on the golden dwarf king statue and orders it melted to try and kill Smaug; that golden dwarf king statue is a depiction of Thorin's soul at that moment, his glorious, brave and shining moment. What happens? The eye begins melting first, then it all gives way, and I predict this is exactly what will happen, Thorin will "fail to see" what he must, and because of that, he will lose everything.
Any separation touted by the Left--such as we see demonstrated in Attorney General Eric Holder's "Nation of cowards" speech--as being a value system designed to keep minorities out of government is imagined and created by the Left to further their attack on the status quo, it's not actually practiced by those the Left labels as their political enemies; in other words, the Left has completely fabricated their own version of reality; hard to believe? No, of course not. The Left claims to be politically abandoned by the system, but the system has demonstrated that is not the case, rather, the Left is imagining that the system does something it does not do, both exclude minorities--there are lots of women and minorities in government and business--and falsely valuing one dichotomy over another for their sake of maintaining a power base of rich white men. It might seem that I am making much ado about nothing, however, the gross re-writing of the story of Noah in Darren Aronofsky's last film and Sleeping Beauty by Maleficent film makers, and the adherence to original texts by pro-capitalist works, reflects the true image of who is closer to reality and who maligns the truth for their own political ends.
The document most under threat currently is the Constitution and Bill Of Rights, two written works the Left wants to do away with (just like Maleficent directors did away with the written original of Sleeping Beauty, and Aronofsky with the original story of Noah) but conservatives and patriots want to preserve and protect. While the first, official trailer for The Hobbit: the Battle Of the Five Armies is not supposed to come out until October, it is expected that some material--perhaps images or a few snippets?--might appear at the upcoming Comi-Con starting next week in San Diego. We know from a report of someone who has seen something like a trailer presented at one of the other conventions, that Gandalf announces the time has come for each to choose which side they are on, and there could certainly be no more accurate statement of the political atmosphere in America right now.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner