“There and Back Again,” or… The Hobbit in 3 Hours

This blog is meant to document some of the details that went into editing Peter Jackson’s three Hobbit films down into a single 3-hour movie that, I think, follows Tolkien’s original story as lovingly as possible. I should say that while I don’t think Jackson’s storytelling was as concise and character-driven as it could have been, I consider this cut to be a demonstration that there IS a really fun and beautiful movie buried in the material the filmmakers created. It just needed to be carefully extracted. Thus, a “fan edit.”

I’ve spent many weeks carefully recrafting the work into what I’m calling “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Cut” after the title of Bilbo Baggins’ own autobiographical book within the story. This keeps this fan edit distinct from others in a way that I think is respectful to Tolkien’s own intentions.

Download Torrent – 720p .mp4 (Requires torrent client, like uTorrent or Transmission. Beware of malicious banner links posing as download links.)

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Through editing I’ve not only removed material that I felt was superfluous or nonsensical, but also reordered scenes and structure, switched out musical cues, and combined places and characters. I’ve put considerable time into toning down even very small moments that felt out of place, overly slapstick, or gratuitously CGI-oriented.

What I really wanted to do was make a version that is seamless and genuinely watchable, and even entertaining.

With that, I think you’ll find an interesting, albeit imperfect film, that feels more in line with what I think a lot of fans hoped to see when a Hobbit movie was first announced, and even more in line with Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy. I believe the three hour length feels appropriate for the epic nature of the story and fits nicely with the length of the Rings trilogy, acting once again as something of a prologue.

(Before I go into more detail, I’d like to acknowledge TolkienEditor’s 4 hour cut. It is a very different version in a number of ways, but he/she beat me too the punch, and my hat is off. I would like to note that “There and Back Again” is over an hour shorter and a good deal more weekends of work than TolkienEditor’s cut — as I understand it — but all the same some really great work was done, some with very similar instincts, and I’d almost suggest one might consider that version to be an “Extended Cut” of the one you’ll find here.)

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Here are some more specific notes on what has been changed:

  • Overall, Bilbo has been made front and center the film’s protagonist, and we witness the story almost entirely through his perspective. Martin Freeman’s excellent performance carries us through most of the way, as one would expect. Exceptions to this are a few scenes given to Bard (whose expanded part in Jackson’s material was too critical to remove entirely), and some of the Dwarves’ adventure in the Goblin tunnels.
  • Thorin’s story has been reduced where it doesn’t directly impact Bilbo’s.
  • The beginning of the film begins much the same way the book does, with the line “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit.” Gone is the extensive and unnecessary history of Dale and the Dwarves, who I feel are introduced much better as they arrive at Bilbo’s home. Instead Bilbo almost immediately takes us back to his first meeting with Gandalf, and we’re off from there.
  • The Dwarves’ dinner in Bag End has been greatly trimmed and aside from a few seconds of a more subtle “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates” we are quickly moved into hearing of Gandalf’s quest.
  • The story of Smaug’s attack on Dale and Erabor, as well as the dwarvish peoples’ exile under the leadership of Thorin, has been laid over the song of the Misty Mountains, a dramatic montage that I find far more effective and takes inspiration from the 1977 animated adaptation. You can find a cut of this scene below.
  • Azog is almost entirely gone, his appearances limited to the point where he could essentially be just another Orc warrior. Bolg remains (as in the book) but even then his role is very small.
  • As such, the Orcs don’t attack until after the encounter with the Goblin king.
  • The chase through the Goblin tunnels is greatly compressed. Gandalf arrives, stuns the goblins, stabs the Goblin King, and flees the mountain after a very quick skirmish.
  • Beorn does not chase the Dwarves. After traveling with the Eagles, Gandalf tells them of a place nearby they might stay the night, and we find Bilbo waking the next morning to find his company having a brief breakfast with Beorn. There is then more of an implication that Beorn is protecting them on their journey to Mirkwood.
  • Kili’s romance with Tauriel is gone. She appears briefly, as does Legolas, only in a few brief cameos. It like a good idea to still suggest there are Elvish women, and accurate to suggest that Legolas was at Mirkwood at the time.
  • The barrel chase is gone entirely. The company escapes down the river happy and unscathed, with Legolas watching incredulously from afar. I’ve also removed all the bizarre GoPro footage.
  • Much of the material in Lake Town is gone. The dwarves arrive with Bard’s help, are caught stealing weapons, and are presented to the Master. He greedily welcomes them and sends them on their way.
  • As such, much as I love Stephen Fry, he is given only a few brief appearances. The entirely superfluous character Alfrid (played, I admit, with perfect enthusiasm by Ryan Gage) only appears to act as the Master’s wormy counselor as they welcome the Dwarves.
  • Kili, Fili, Bofur and Oin all go to the Lonely Mountain with the rest of the company. No one remains in Lake Town. There is no Orc attack on the town or sick Dwarf adventures.
  • Thorin and his Dwarves never meet Smaug, as in the book. Only Bilbo ever enters the mountain before the dragon’s attack on Lake Town.
  • Bard kills Smaug on his own, without the help of his son Bain. I actually enjoyed the drama this added to the scene in Jackson’s cut, but still it seemed unnecessary for the story and too much of a distraction. I would have loved to reintroduce the Thrush’s relaying of Bilbo’s message for Bard to look for Smaug’s missing scale (as in the book), and might still do so once I have the time to do some fancier compositing work.
  • Much of Thorin’s descent into madness has been extracted, though he still acts essentially as the primary antagonist. For me, Tolkien’s version of Thorin always worked as a caution against greed in a very relatable way. The constant and overt suggestions that his folly is an almost literal “sickness” seems to take any human element away from his story. I realize Tolkien himself suggested it was “Dragon Sickness,” but I’m not sure that was ever intended to represent a genuine physical illness. Maybe I’m wrong.
  • The Battle of Five armies has been cut down to a climax of under 10 minutes, with significantly less cartoon insanity, and Bilbo’s bash on the head puts a narrative end to it.
  • This is currently an ONGOING project. More changes and improvements, some fairly ambitious, will be made as time permits.

Want to take a look? You’ll need to grab the torrent. I’d love to be able to share this more openly but, sigh.

Download Torrent – 720p .mp4 (Requires torrent client, like uTorrent or Transmission. Beware of malicious banner links posing as download links.)

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A little bit in closing. I’d like to say again that I really do appreciate what Peter Jackson has accomplished. I don’t think any other filmmaker could have ever brought Middle Earth to life so beautifully. When I set out to make this version I did it mostly out of curiosity, as a creative project to flex editorial muscles on, and out of my own love of Tolkien and The Hobbit (my favorite book as a child). I genuinely intend no disrespect to Jackson or his incredible team.

And one last heads up. Due to the unavailability of a Blu Ray version of “The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third act of “There and Back Again” becomes suddenly and dramatically much poorer in image and audio quality. It’s pretty icky when it happens, so I apologize in advance if you make it that far. I intend to fix that once I can buy a higher quality version of that film.

 

 

 

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34 thoughts on ““There and Back Again,” or… The Hobbit in 3 Hours

      • Sa'ad A-khatib says:

        reading his descriptions and seeing his edits on youtube (or if you viewed his full length edit) and what he has done, who do you think made the more faithful hobbit film , you or him?!?!

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  1. JJT says:

    Excellent work, when do you think your next version of this cut will come around? Around the time of the Blu Ray release of Five Armies? Also, any insight on specific edits you still want to do?

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    • Good question. The biggest thing holding me back from a new version is being able to pick up a higher quality version of Five Armies. The Blu Ray would certainly be a big help. Even a higher compression DVD would be a start.

      Lots of specific edits I want to do, yes. Adding the Thrush’s role in Smaug’s demise is a big one, but I think I know how to do it. Figuring out a cleaner middle around Beorn is big. I’ve also got plans to introduce Bolg more clearly, and increase his role. I’ll document some of these down the road.

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  2. Andrea says:

    Please, don’t take this critics badly, because I really liked spending these three hours watching your film.
    And I loved some of your choices. The whole scene with Bilbo and Smaug was perfect. I was really astonished when I saw how you managed to cut the dwarves scenes there. It was just like in the book, so it was perfectly ok. BUT… in every good story, there’s a but at some point. Here I have one, well… many. Let’s go through this. Oh, I’m probably making some mistakes here and there, but I’m actually italian.

    So, this is the first hobbit edit I have actually seen. But I’m going to watch others as well. The story was ok, suits a 3 hour film, but still… the overall impression I had was that this cut was too rushed. Scenes change too fast, and trust me, in many scenes you think “what the…? what is going on? They dwarves were here just a second ago, and now they are over there”, or “and from where this/he/whoever has come from? He wasn’t here a second ago”.

    The passage from the first film to the second film is just a no no for me. It’s too rushed. To me a 4 hour movie, or even a little more would be perfect: why did you cut a lot of Beorn scenes? Also in Mirkwood, Bombur didn’t fall in the water like we saw in the extended edition… I would have kept all the scenes in Mirkwood honestly, like you did with Gollum-Bilbo. Also, at the very end, I would have kept that part when everyone was selling Bilbo’s stuff. And I didn’t understand why you merged the goodbye with Gandalf, with the scene in which Bilbo opened the door of his home, I thought it was awkward.

    There are some continuity issue, which are in my opinion the first “flaws” you should focus on. I would like to list some of them:

    1) the bell at Bilbo’s rang just 4 times. Dwalin, Balin, Fili and Kili, and then finally Gandalf. The scene after everyone was already in, eating. There is a clear cut, it’s too evident.

    2) When Bilbo is catched by the trolls, Fili appears from the bushes telling them to drop him down. All the other dwarves come along with him, but they don’t fight. The scene changes and Bilbo is suddendly catched by the trolls who are stretching his legs and arms. A little fight before this scene would have fit perfectly here.

    3) In Mirkwood, Bilbo kills the spider who is trying to eat a dwarf. He revelead himself by taking off the ring. After some little fight, he finds the ring on the ground, but actually it seems that he has never losed it!

    4) No one has seen the dwarves entering Lake Town, but a few scenes after, everyone was murmuring about the return of the King under the Mountain.

    5) on Ravenhill, Bilbo was invisible (having is ring on), but the scene after is visible again.

    Again, thanks for your edit. I watched it with pleasure. Keep on doing the good work!

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    • These are actually really great, well thought out bits of feedback. Rushed pace has always been a concern of mine and something I’d like to go back and fix a lot of in my next pass, but its really good to hear that the concern is genuine and that it’s worth looking into.

      The ending with Bilbo going from invisible to visible is something I plan to fix with a little bit of compositing.

      Not sure about the one regarding the Dwarves entering Lake Town. I have a few good shots in there of them walking amongst people; “This, Master Baggins, is the world of men.” But I suppose I could add another shot or two.

      The problem of Bilbo’s door only being knocked on 4 times was my attempt to fix the horribly awful slapstick moment of the Dwarves all foolishly falling in the front door as if they had all been stacked outside, as if that was somehow even possible. I feel the cut from Gandalf to the Dwarf party clearly demonstrates that yes, more Dwarves arrived in the time in between. But it’s a fair concern and I’ll take another look.

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  3. Ted says:

    Overall: I was really impressed that you managed to produce a single film with under 3 hour runtime (with end credits it just goes over 3 hours). I liked a lot of your small touches, such as the thrush knocking on the door or Bard killing the dragon without his son. Thank you for eliminating the unnecessary dwarf/elf love story, the silly Radagast house scene, the overbloated Laketown politics, and the inappropriate Alfrid comic relief. Obviously, you need the Blu-ray release of the last film, and the extended edition scenes, to produce a final edit. Until then, I have some advice/criticisms that I think will be helpful to consider.

    1. It seems too fast-paced. I understand the need to condense everything into a single film for a book that’s shorter than Fellowship of the Ring. However, a lot of events happen in The Hobbit, and some of which are written in just a sentence or two. However, it can’t be that short in cinema format. Especially with whatever might be added in the Extended Edition, I think trying to cram everything into 3 hours will be too much. I think the original plan to make The Hobbit into two films is the right idea. Adding an extra hour or hour and half of content to your cut can flesh out, world-build, and produce 2 evenly-paced strong films.

    2. Lack of White Council/Necromancer plotline. I can understand why you cut it. It doesn’t happen in the book. But it DOES happen in Tolkien’s notes. That’s why Gandalf abruptly leaves Thorin’s Company. Him and the White Council attack Dol Guldur: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Attack_on_Dol_Guldur

    For a moviegoer watching your cut, they’ll be confused as hell as to what Gandalf was exploring and where he went and what he found.

    Also, by taking out the WC/Necromancer plotline, the quest to reclaim Erebor loses a lot of depth, and why Gandalf even bothered helping the dwarves. The WC, Gandalf in particular, grew suspicious of the growing darkness of the Necromancer at Dol Guldur. Gandalf suspected a possible alliance between the enemies. He arranges that both happen at the same time so neither can aid the other. Reestablishing power at Erebor/Dale would have huge significance in the Northern Theatre during the later War of the Ring. And by defeating Smaug beforehand, it prevented a devastating weapon Sauron could have had.

    If you decide to go with a longer cut, or a 2-movie cut, then this a must secondary plotline.

    3. I really admired your focus on Bilbo in your cut. The film really becomes much more about The Hobbit, rather than The World Around The Hobbit as it seems at times in PJ’s trilogy. However, I felt the lack of focus on Thorin really hurt what was a strong character arc for him in the trilogy. None of the dwarves get any focus in your version, but at least Thorin should. It makes Bilbo’s decision in the third film hold a lot more weight, as well as create more emotional significance for Thorin’s death. It also makes for some awkward moments.

    For example, Balin mentions how Thorin has more reason to hate Orcs than others, but it’s never explained, because you cut out the spectacular Battle of Azanulbizar. I also think you could even show Azog killed Thorin’s grandpa, Thorin cutting his arm, and Azog retreating. That way, it could explain why Azog wants to hunt him down in revenge. The goblin scout that oversees them at the campsite could just say that they should let Azog know.

    Later, in the second film, Thranduil references Thorin’s grandfather and how his greed caused Smaug to come, but that’s never explored because you put the montage over Misty Mountains (which was brilliant though). Because you cut out a lot of Thorin’s dragon sickness, it makes the significance of that lesser (because the same happened to his grandfather). Especially when Thorin gets over his madness in a second and comes charging out in the battle.

    Specific nitpicks:

    * Rivendell scenes seem rather rushed. Elrond’s entrance comes out of nowhere. If you decide to take my Azog suggestion, it makes Elrond’s wonder at why Orcs were so near Rivendell more reasonable (because Azog is after them). The transition from dinner scene to asking Elrond about the map is awkward. Furthermore, show more of Bilbo’s wonder with Rivendell. This is where he really becomes fond of seeing the world and traveling. And why he eventually comes to live in Rivendell after he leaves the Shire. Perhaps include that Elrond/Bilbo conversation. Lastly, the cut makes it confusing as to why Gandalf isn’t coming along the dwarves after Rivendell. Sure he’s talking to Elrond in the night but the dwarves leave the next morning.

    * The Goblin King seeing Glamdring and freaking out comes out of nowhere. Also, I think this is where you should include some fight scenes for the dwarves. We don’t get any action prior to this, and the dwarves deserve one. Let them show their mettle.

    * Music as Bilbo leaves the tunnel ends rather abruptly. Also, I think you should have kept the entire scene of the dwarves being touched by Bilbo’s bravery and Gandalf saying “well what does it matter”. Seems smoother.

    * The entire stretch from warg attack until the dwarves enter Mirkwood needs better editing. It doesn’t flow very well compared to rest of film.If you decide to keep Thorin arc in your next cut, perhaps have the warg attack be his grand entrance. You don’t have to do the Thorin vs Azog bit though. Just have the eagles rescue them, and please please leave the fantastic flight to carrock score like in the original. Perhaps overlay the audio of Gandalf suggesting to take refuge at Beorn’s during this flight.

    * By not including the Necromancer, it begs the question as to why Mirkwood is so dark and evil. You want to make the Ring seem dark, but you completely remove the brilliant scene where Bilbo brutally murders a spider. It begs the question as to why the Ring is on the ground.

    * Perhaps when Thranduil mentions the white gems he seeks, you could flashback to the scene in intro exposition where Thror rejects giving them to Thranduil as an insult, which could explain why he hates them and their greed.

    * Laketown seems too fast for my liking, but it’s fine I guess. Without any audio, you could maybe show a quick scene of Legolas and unnamed she-elf (Tauriel) arriving at the edge of the lake and overlooking Laketown as if to show they tracked the prisoners and know where they are. It might later explain why Thranduil mobilizes his forces so quickly. Heck, I think it would be cool if you took the orc interrogation scene with Legolas and Thranduil WHILE the dwarves are still imprisoned. It makes it seem this one orc was tracking them, and they get information that the orcs want revenge on Thorin and co (for Azog and goblin king death AND because they don’t want them to reclaim mountain because of reasons why Sauron doesn’t). This could also flesh out. But it’s a nitpick of course.

    * One scene you have Bilbo outside and the dwarves inside, next scene you have BIlbo running deep in Erebor and collidning into Thorin, and next scene they are all outside again. Not clear.

    * Battle of the Five Armies needs work. Probably because you might be expecting some of the extended edition scenes which might add in more Beorn and eagles possibly. By removing Azog and the WC stuff, it makes this random orc army attack really, really come out of nowhere. Because you also didn’t flesh out the dwarves, it makes none of their deaths really seem poignant, and gives Thorin an anticlimatic end. Please keep the scene where the dwarves kneel for their fallen king. That was powerful.

    ANyway, that’s what I have for now. HOpe to see a fresh cut later.

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  4. These are actually really great notes. A lot of these are problems I was aware of, but there was pressure to release this edit before it fell further into obscurity. Now I’m looking at cleaning up quite a bit of it for the next release, and seeing this kind of feedback confirms a lot of my concerns, and also reveals some I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t think anyone would miss Gol Dulgur, as the mystery of what Gandalf was up to was always, I feel, a part of what made his character interesting in the book (and the animated 1970s film). But I’m seeing now that lots of people miss this element, so maybe the cut needs to be more along the lines of 3 hours 15 minutes. Hmmm.

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  5. Ted says:

    Yeah, I can understand the Gandalf bit. Some are in the camp that he’s a mysterious wizard who comes and goes. But I’m in the other camp that really, really liked the White Council subplot. It just confirms that Gandalf was the true chessmaster who saved Middle Earth from Sauron. It obviously sets up nicely for LOTR. Lastly, I personally found the WC vs True Power Nazgul wraiths one of the most badass scenes in the entire 6 films, but that’s just me.

    If you want to keep this subplot brief hmmm….you could have the White Council meeting mostly shortened to just suggest the Necromancer is a growing safety threat in Mirkwood (and responsible for its evil) and that there could be a possible dangerous alliance between it and dragon. You could then flash brief scenes of Dol Guldur and Gandalf (and the WC) arriving at Dol Guldur, and leave it ambiguous. That would tell the audience where and why he left the group.

    Also, in the book, Gandalf is the one who warns them of the incoming attack, suggesting he found that out somehow. But if I recall, in the cut it seems he’s almost as surprised as everyone else.

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  6. Andrea says:

    Hey, I’m still visiting this blog so I’m not really a casual commentator and I really support your work. Ted just explained in clearer words what I meant in my previous comment by just saying that the pace was too fast, and some scenes felt awkard (and I thought about Rivendell and Elrond coming out from nowhere too!) His advices are really good, and I myself suggest to do a 4 hour film, or two 2hours great film. I really liked Dol goldur as well, but I won’t mind wether you put it in back or not. I quote nearly everything of his advices. Thank you for listening to these suggestions 😃

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  7. Vlad_b says:

    This is the fifth cut I’ve seen, and honestly, I think it’s THE best fan edit so far (better than Funny Puzzle), even if it sometimes feels a bit rushed. You clearly put a lot of thought into the cinematic narrative and faithfulness to the original, without sacrificing one for the other.

    I love how you cut out most of Jackson’s excesses and his dumbest jokes (not all humor is bad). Many of your choices are quite brilliant, including the decision to omit the climactic (or anti-climactic?) battle of Thorin vs Azog altogether. None of the other editors thought of that, but that’s actually closest to the spirit of Tolkien.

    While it may be interesting to find out what Gandalf was up to, I don’t necessarily feel that the entire Dol Guldur subplot needs to be fully fleshed out, but maybe a few flashes/voiceovers would do it.

    One thing I found jarring is Bilbo saying “mine” in a slightly evil way after the spider scene. I think the ring would have that kind of hold on him much later, maybe years later. For now, he’s strangely drawn to it, but not quite addicted yet.

    The Goblins song may have been in the book, but Jackson’s rendition is just too silly, in my opinion, so it’s not all that essential.

    Also, perhaps a bit more development of Bard’s character would have been nice.

    And for the record, I feel like the least violence Bilbo commits, the better. The giant bug thingy fight is superfluous, but it’s not altogether bad the way you edited it. Throwing a few stones at the Orcs at the end is also not totally inappropriate, but there’s a way to edit it out, if you feel like it.

    In any case, don’t feel pressured to keep the movie under 3 hours, it’s OK to go over that a bit.

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      • Vlad_b says:

        Thanks for reading it and taking note, I really appreciate it! I’m already spreading the word of your edit around on Facebook. I just noticed, though, that blink-and-you miss it (missed it the first time!) shot of Bilbo slashing at a Warg right before the eagles rescue – that one should go.

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  8. Kara says:

    Frankly, I think you’re trying too hard to make this a 3-3.5 hour film. That’s a similar problem to the other fan edits I watched. This still needs to feel like a movie, not a mad race to list all the events that happen in the book and awkwardly paste them together. It’s okay to have some body fat than be skin and bones. The PJ trilogy is actually quite good, but is held back by unnecessary elements that need to be removed.

    These are the things that should be edited:

    * Shorter introduction: You did this well by shifting the introductory exposition as a montage during the Misty Mountains scene.
    * Cut to the chase with less Radagast scenes. Make him seem less like Jar Jar Binks and more of a quirky, but serious wizard. When Gandalf mentions his name when he talks about the other wizards, open with Radagast already traveling to Dol Guldur on his rabbit sled.
    * But yes, otherwise, keep the Necromancer subplot. Why the hell would anyone cut this part?
    * TRIM, not remove, the action scenes. Action is acceptable during the Goblin Town, barrel ride, final battle, etc, but SLIM them when they turn into video game sequences. I enjoyed the fights in the trilogy up until the part when it became too much (Bombur barrel killling spree; much of Legolas vs Bolg Round II, though some of it was sweet).
    * Remove the love story element.That was a major no-no.
    * This might require some editing, but portray the love story as more of a budding friendship between two members of separate races with a shade of romance. That’s right, I think you can keep Tauriel. Make her into a noble strong elf who doesn’t believe in Thrandul’s isolationist and anti-dwarf policies. It would set up as foreshadowing and future development for Legolas.
    * It’s fine to keep Legolas. He’s Thranduil’s son and is a major character in LOTR.
    * No Alfrid scenes in third film. Only one worth keeping is the townsfolk about to hang him, and Bard telling them to stop. Use him to prop Bard, but that’s it.
    * Regarding Laketown politics. It’s fine to keep it, but just SHORTEN it. The point of it in the second film is to prop up Bard as the noble, people’s person, loving father, brave leader vs the completely opposite Master.
    * Keep Bard using his son to help kill Smaug. The reason it was done is so it can provide some emotional tension for the audience to root for Bard. Without it, Smaug’s death is very anticlimatic.
    * Make two films. By the time you cut everything I said above, you’ll have 2 movies worth of content once the extra scenes from the last film come out and you integrate them in. End movie 1 as the dwarves on the boat approach the Lonely Mountain after Laketown. Movie 2 covers the rest.

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    • I have a feeling you may have watched a different version than mine, based on some of your notes (for example, the love story IS gone in my cut, Alfrid IS gone in the third act, as is Radagast entirely, etc), but I’ll try to address the ones that are relevant to my version.

      I cut the Necromancer subplot because it takes the audience away from Bilbo’s story. The movie is called “The Hobbit,” But it might as well be called “A Bunch of Things that Happened to Different Oeople in Middle-earth.” I’m not really interested in that version, just from a personal standpoint. The necromancer and Gandalf’s adventures in Gol Dudur is an interesting prologue to Lord of the Rings but completely irrelevant to the main thrust of the Bilbo and his hero’s journey. Thankfully, for people who want to see where Gandalf went, Peter Jackson has his version of the films that anyone can watch.

      That’s more or less how I feel about going over 3 hours, as well. There ARE longer versions out there, as well as a book, and people can enjoy them at their leisure. With this cut I was more interested in creating a film that feels like the single-film version that would have been made 10 years ago, one that the average audience would actually be able to sit through and enjoy. I’m not really interested in what the two-film version looks like, someone else can take up that mantle.

      But I appreciate your comments all the same. I will probably add SOME Necromancer back into my next version. We’ll see.

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      • Kara says:

        I definitely saw your version. My apologies if my comments were unclear. I was speaking in *broad* terms in how I felt the trilogy should be edited, not yours in particular.

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  9. mapliopl says:

    Here’s the conclusion of my comments:
    2) We should critically examine the major no-no’s from the movies. To me, here they are:
    a. Tauriel’s love triangle
    b. Too much CGI circus crap:
    • Goblin town exaggerated fighting / chasing scenes
    • Barrel fighting / chase scenes
    • Other exaggerated Fighting scenes in BOTFA
    c. Too much Radagast
    d. Dwarves fighting against Smaug, rebuilding their whole underground operation with 13 people.
    e. Smaug being covered by that ridiculous river of gold lava
    f. Too much Alfrid
    g. The ridiculously delirious Thorin being flushed by a toilet of gold lava

    The rest to me are not necessarily major no-no’s. Since we’re not the owners of the movie, didn’t shoot it, edit, score it and everything else, I feel like we shouldn’t just go around chopping the movie where we see fit, rearranging dialogue in the mouths of people and etc…

    3) Things we shouldn’t avoid completely:

    a. The rage between Goblins and Dwarves. That’s such a huge part of the movies, there’s a lot of that tension, previous battles and reason for mutual rage explained in the appendices and it would just make the movie strange to follow if that was removed, it would make some dialogue scenes seem very shallow too. Granted, Azog shouldn’t even be in the movie, but hey, he is, and PJ wanted a battle scene at the end where the good and bad guy go at it. Too bad it wasn’t Bolg, so hell, I choose to keep him in the movie, because of the completely senseless conclusion to BOTFA without him.

    b. Tauriel. By the same token, she was added to the movie, granted she is not ever mentioned by Tolkien, is not one of his creations and is a lowly elf compared to how important all the other elves ever represented by Tolkien are, but Tolkien does devote some lines of copy to make mention of her race, so I would still keep her, but try as much as possible to make the scenes with her and Fili not feel like a love story.
    c. The background of the battle against Sauron, Dol Guldur and etc… Again, this is not in the Hobbit book for Tolkien didn’t even have that in mind when he wrote it, but he did create the backstory later, so there’s no reason to avoid the backstory altogether. Also, this is a movie adaptation that helps to setup LOTR and bring in a legion of new fans who had not seen it or read the books (which is my case). It is also important for example, besides knowing why he left the company later, to establish where Galdalf got the key to the mountain by more than just a simple line, and it helps us understand that Gandalf is not just some lowly wizard who lights fireworks.

    d. Radagast. Again, too much liberty from PJ in this portrayal, but he was mentioned by Gandalf in the Council of Elrond in LOTR as helpful in understanding the dealings of Sauron.

    4) So with that how do I see the perfect edit?
    Simply eliminate as little as possible, only the things that should really be no-no’s:
    • Bad/unrealistic CGI
    • Forced love triangles
    • Forced Radagast scenes (the smoking, the rabbit sleigh, etc…)
    • Forced Dwarves fighting scenes (against Goblins, Smaug, Orcs and etc…)
    • Shorten the subplot of Alfrid, Orcs, Dwarves, Elves when they become too far removed from Bilbo, but not eliminate it completely.

    How long will this edit be? I still hope it could be over 6 hours, if not more. I would still love it if it were three shorter movies for example. Anyone up to the task? I wish I knew how to edit.

    Like

  10. drfontane says:

    I think your fan-edit is the best one out there. Well done, sir.

    I’m making my own fanedit of the Hobbit Trilogy (bringing them back to two films). The first part has now been finished. There’s a link on my tumblr to yours, to credit you for the creative work I sometimes drew inspiration from (detailed in my list of changes).

    http://hobbitironfoot.tumblr.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey Underhilleditor, just wanted to say THANK YOU for creating this edit! Just watched it and didn’t really miss anything overly much that was left in the longer 4 hour Tolkien edit (which actually STILL took me a couple days to get through whereas yours I watched in one sitting). A lot of people are suggesting this should be two films but I think one 3 to 3 & 1/2 hour epic film (maybe with a good old fashioned intermission halfway through right when the gate to the wood elves’ realm slams shut?) is perfectly doable. You’re practically there already but if you just keep refining it and cutting it so it flows as smoothly as possible as a film (there were what looked like a few wonky fast cuts near the end, just a few ocassional quick frames that looked strange) and with a bit more polish once the 3rd EE blu-ray is released, this could end up being the Hobbit film we SHOULD have gotten were it not for studio hubris and greed.

    A couple personal observations/suggestions:
    Don’t succumb to the urge to add the White Council footage back in. Keep those scenes as bonus deleted scenes. Sure it may be interesting background information for some but that’s NOT what THIS story is really about. When in doubt, use the original novel The Hobbit as your guide (not appendices or other writings by Tolkien) and please keep the focus on Bilbo and his journey since he’s the heart and soul of THIS story. Gandalf’s continual disappearances only add to his mysterious aura: he’s the wandering wizard so comes and goes as he pleases. Remember the lessons of the Star Wars prequels: hearing old Ben Kenobi reminisce for a few moments to young Luke Skywalker about fighting in the Clone Wars in the original Star Wars ’77 was WAY more interesting and evocative and imagination firing than having to actually SIT through three boring prequel films of CGI and green screen. All of that is mere back story and world building but not really neccesary to the main drama–that is to say Tolkien had to write the history in The Silmarillion first as background, but it’s the characters, story and drama in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that he’s mostly known and loved for by the general public.

    I liked the way you cut out the Tauriel/Kili romance but still kept in the moments of him winking at the elf maiden in Rivendell and sighing wistfully after being locked up by Tauriel in the wood elves’ prison; added just a nice touch of character for him that, were it not for the “romance” scenes bludgeoned into the official Peter Jackson cut, could have been pored over and dissected on the internet for years to come like the oragami in Blade Runner (Was Kili really flirting with those she-elves? Is that even possible?).

    The only thing I kind of missed (or maybe I just blinked and missed it?) was Gandalf handing the key to the secret door over to Thorin.

    And MAYBE just add a single mysterious shot (a few seconds really) when the lightning flashes of the stone giants in the background during the thunderstorm and maybe a line referencing them (but definitely keep the extended stone giant “action” scene out, that was just as bad as Bombur’s wet ‘n wild themepark barrel ride!).

    Cut Frodo totally from the beginning IF possible, if not, I was OK with what amounted to a wordless cameo. Glad Legolas has been cut down too–this ain’t his story yet, the big screen hog! And super happy you kept the first line “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit” as it should be!

    LOVED the Misty Mountains song montage in the beginning along with the scenes back in the Shire at the very end; the trilogy of films needed way more of that type of clever editing and compression with voice overs instead of long drawn out extended scenes, though the end might need to be finessed a bit more; maybe just end the film with Bilbo replying to Gandalf’s line about luck: “Well thank goodness” and him seeing the Shire again (There and Back Again indeed!) though I did like Bilbo’s small smile at seeing his handkerchief again. This is the lighter Hobbit not the heavier Lord of the Rings so I’m not a huge fan of the slightly sinister old One Ring junkie Bilbo bookend scene at the very end–seems too much to be trying to tie in to the beginning of Fellowship (prequelitis again) rather than standing on it’s own.

    All in all nice job on a great piece of work–I really look forward to seeing the final high res edition you come up with!

    Like

  12. J says:

    Is there a way I could save the edit straight to my computer without having to torrent the film? I don’t trust torrent clients, as I have gotten viruses from the last two I downloaded. Tolkien Editor had links for torrents as well as a straight-to-computer file with his edit. The catch was it had to be 6 GB, hence a poor quality movie. That is TOTALLY okay with me. Preferable, actually. I’d like to burn this edit onto a DVD (or two) for my Middle Earth collection, but I can’t do that in its current 1080p Blu Ray format. I know it might be a huge request, but if there is ANY way you could post a direct download link, with even quality (basically so that it all matches the 3rd act of the film in terms of picture, like the Tolkien Edit), that would be so so so amazing! Thank you so much! 🙂

    Like

  13. Hello there, just watched this version with my extremely critical girlfriend. I’d seen the Tolkien Edit by myself and found it a vast improvement but still had too much in the way of ‘Jackson silliness’. Your version is vastly superior, so congratulations there. Ignoring the larger changes that both versions make, there are several things that give your cut the distinct edge:

    The weaving of the the CG-heavy introduction into the misty mountains song is just genius. Your entire beginning is excellent, where Tolkien Edit’s is far less well crafted;

    I love how you handled Beorn, but I hear the extended version has more to work with;

    Your brutal excision pf the barrel ride made us both very happy;

    How you handled Smaug and the Gold problem was spectacular;

    Laketown is once again a fairly basic human settlement to which we have not that much connection, since Bilbo and the Dwaves didn’t either — your change to the death of Smaug was amazing;

    Two scenes I disliked in Five Armies was the elves bringing food, and that ridiculous cart ride — you removed both, thankfully;

    and

    Ending the battle with Bilbo’s knockout gets around so much crap, specifically the God of War stage that was Azog vs Thorin — I think I actually groaned out loud when Azog leapt out of the ice. That was just so dumb.

    Minor quibbles:

    — Perhaps I missed it but you cut out Gandalf handing Thorin the key to Erebor at the unexpected party. This is integral imo.

    — Some of the editing in the goblin tunnels is a bit jarring. When the Goblin King says ‘which makes you…nothing at all’, we fairly suddenly jump to Gollum/Bilbo. The GF insists that wasn’t the way it was originally.

    — Your music editing isn’t as smooth or organic as Tolkien Edit’s. Just an observation. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

    — The loss of the ponies after the troll encounter is noticeable to me. Suddenly they’re enterting Rivendell (despite Thorin saying he wouldn’t) and they’re ponyless.

    — We both agree you should keep Thranduil slicing off the goblins’/orcs’ heads while on his elk. That was badass and he is a badass.

    I get that you’re working with fairly limited material and there’s only so much you can polish a rock (I wouldn’t call even the source a turd, but it was…messy). With that in mind, you’ve worked a miracle. Thank you so much.

    Like

  14. Sean says:

    First: I liked Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. I can admit that even though they crapped over a bunch of awesome stuff from the book. It is an adaptation, and in many ways a very cool one.

    Second: I liked your one film edit. I think that given how Jackson’s version basically goes quite a ways beyond the book, it is nice to see a version that is closer to the limited nature of the book itself. Not saying either approach is necessarily better, but it is nice to be able to have both, honestly. Some of your shot/scene cuts are rather quick and jarring, but sadly that is what you have to do when making a cut from a someone else’s work (with a limited amount of original footage, too).

    All that said, I have a few thoughts that you can take or reject; either way is cool by me.

    – Really liked the intercut backstory shots during the Song of the Lonely Mountain.

    – Ignore the commenters who want the Dol Goldur subplot included and Gandalf’s absence explained. I like those sections in Jackson’s films, but the whole point of having three films is so that they could include stuff like that that isn’t essential to the book but was going on in Tolkien’s world at the time (more or less). The fact is that in the book, Gandalf’s absence is not explained and it works, just like Bilbo being out cold through half the battle works in the book. Both those elements are big reasons your version works for what it is. I like the Thorin/Azog stuff too, but that is the kind of expanded material you include when you do three films as opposed to one.

    – I wish there was some way that the idiotic decision to replace Bard’s actual arrow that was black with a giant metal dart could be reversed (to say nothing of his monologue in the book before shooting it), but that’s on Jackson and his co-writers. But on that note, THANK YOU for dumping all the extra Smaug rubbish and the bizarre action sequence with the dwarves. Major improvement. Ditto for the over-the-top barrel chase scene and fight with the orcs. This version is much better.

    – Beorn is cool. My two cents is that if you could get the extended cut scene with Gandalf introducing the dwarves to him outside into your version, it would be tremendous. Great scene in the book and would improve this film, imo.

    – I agree with the commenter above who said you should keep the dwarves falling into Bag End. It’s in the book and, while it is a bit cartoonish, I think it still kinda works. Your call, though, just my opinion.

    – Final thought: I almost feel like it would work best as two films. Some of it just feels overly rushed – the final battle for one thing, as well as the events leading up to it. It feels like it needs a few extra scenes/shots/seconds at various points to make it feel just a little smoother. A two film, two hours each project would probably be ideal, but I doubt that is something you’re interested in. At any rate, for what it is it works pretty well and I enjoyed it.

    Like

  15. Ariel says:

    I just wanted to say that your edit took this trilogy from unbearable for me, and brought back a lot of the magic and intimacy of the beloved book! I never would have guessed that there was actually a movie with a main character (Bilbo, and I always loved Martin Freeman in the role) hidden somewhere in the bloated video game of a trilogy that Jackson released. I’ve gotten wind of a collaboration between you and http://definitivehobbitcut.tumblr.com/ coming out in April, and I absolutely cannot wait! You have already exceeded my expectations and I’m on the edge of my seat to see the last few rough spots ironed out. I fully intend to add this to my LotR viewing routine!

    Like

  16. omletteaufromage says:

    I very much enjoyed your cut, but I have a few suggestions.

    First of all, I want to say that you cut is fantastic, nicely centers around Bilbo and removes some peter jackson nonsense ;). (I still think no other director would have doone better, but he is a bit too much on the action side for me, and the Azog story sadly was utter BS)
    have most respect and honour for you because I could have never done the same myself, and you make the dream of a (almost) perfect hobbit come true for me.

    Btw, will the final release be full 1080p? Because 720p now are great but 1080p would be just *.* Oh, and is it true that you will be working together with him?

    http://definitivehobbitcut.tumblr.com/

    Okay, now to the film and a few things I would change.

    The big thing you should focus on is immersion and continuity. Some scenes are too rushed and people move too fast from one place to another, which may not seem much but subconsciously you notice. At some points jumpcuts are okay but some just look off.

    Here are a few scenes in which there are some flaws imo.

    1) After dwalin enters, bilbo enever closes the door, but the bell still rings and then Bilbo opens the suddenly closed door. (At 06:54) I really noticed that. If you could somehow fix that even if it means 1 minute or 2 more runtime that would be great.

    2) I’d keep the dwarves falling on the dormatt in. In the books it does happen even though it’s only Thorin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. Bombur land on Thorin. Because it’s close to the book and for the reason ANDREA already talked about I’d keep that in the movie.

    3) 14:44 or smth like that there is a weird colour change. I think that’s rather easy to fix.

    4) At 23:30 or smth like that when thorin tells Fili and Kili off, Balin says: “Thorin has more reason to hate orcs…” The audience wonders why, but it’s never explained. (Of course not because you cut out the Azog stuff) It’s not too bad but maybe you can fix it.

    5) 28:01 It just look wierd how Bilbo gets to the ponies, the cut is a bit obvious, to me looks kinda off. Also I think the same as ANDREA says. A little fight wouldn’t hurt here. The cut is a bit obvious.

    6) At 43:42 Thorin is at the front of the line, but then suddenly is near Bilbo. That was very strange and broke the immersion quite a bit. Can’t you leave the bit in, where Biblo is hanging on the cliff and Thorin saves him? If you can manage that without taking the Stone Giants back in that would be fantastic.

    7)The Goblin King scene:
    49:20 The Goblin King sits down and then instantly stands again. Gandalf killing the Goblin King just doesn’t fit. The cut is a bit too obvious. Maybe you can let the company run away first (without the physically impossible slide) and then the Goblin King reappears and Gandalf finishes him. The way you did it’s just a bit too rushed. Kinda instakill.

    8)1:12:43 or smth like that. First Bolg looking and then him and the reast of his orcs marching away looks weird, because everything is burning but in these shots you don’t see that. At 1:12:43 a glow from e.g. the right side would help because that let’s the viewer know that we are still witnessing the same scene.

    9) For Beorn, could you somehow manage to include the scene from the extended edition? The one where gandalf introduces the dwarves one after another. That one is great and would really add to the movie. In general as much Beorn as possible. Also that they learn about Beorn nature after they visit him is very, very strange. I would change that. Furthermore, the way you arranged the scenes it makes it seem that Mirkwood is very far away from Beorn’s hut, with mountains and such in the way, which is not the case. Them just taking the ponies from beorn and and riding straight to the forest would make the scenes much more coherent.

    10) In Mirkwood Bilbo finds the ring without loosing it. ANDREA already mentioned that.

    That’s all I had time for now. I’ll add things as I have time.

    But just in general:

    I wouldn’t try to hard to condense the movie in three hours and make compromises for that. I would focus on coherence and continuity. in fact, I think 3 hours may be slightly too short, 3.5-4 hourse would probably be the best amount of time.

    I hope you can do smth with this 🙂 Keep up this amazing work.

    Like

    • I like a lot of your thoughts. Totally valid stuff. The only thing I can’t agree with is re-inserting the extended-edition Beorn introduction scene. It’s playful and well written in the book, but the movie’s presentation of this scene is not only very poorly shot (we only see awkward pickup closeups of Beorn), poorly edited, and poorly directed, but it actually serves to bog down the middle of the film with a really unnecessary re-introduction to the Dwarves and makes Gandalf look bumbling rather than clever. A solid original screenplay would never have use for all this. As much as I’m trying to stay true to the book, I’m also looking at this film the way an audience would. It’s a pretty awkward, troubled scene.

      That said, I appreciate your comments, and I really appreciate you taking the time to watch the film and take delicate notes. Very helpful. And it means a lot to me. And yes, there’s a 1080 version coming.

      Like

  17. omletteaufromage says:

    Oh, one thing. Please leave the smaug death scene as it is, him flying up once again, and then the light leaving his chest etc. That was epic and so well done it would be a shame to shorten that. Please leave that.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Frank says:

    Great job, yes some of the transitions need work, and yes it feels a bit rushed, but overall, considering the material you had to work with, I have to say it rocks!
    In order to fix some of the issues others have pointed out, you need more/better material, so I took the liberty of adding a few scenes using still images with some animation / transitions and background music:
    * Meeting Beorn (from stills in the Extended DOS + Vivaldi’s Autumn)
    * The funeral of Thorin (fan art + Mozart’s Lacrimosa from Requiem)
    I would also add the Necromancer confrontation, by showing Gandalf entering Dol Guldur, then cutting to the White Council arriving and expelling Sauron.
    If my video editing skills were any better I might have tried it, but then again I refuse to give Peter Jackson any money for this fiasco, so haven’t bought any Hobbit movie.
    You may consider adding some missing pieces to the puzzle through stills, there are some really great fan art images out there (you may need permission though).

    Like

  19. Ganner says:

    I think you should be able to make a really nice 3.5 hours film. It’s not really too long (but 4h is IMHO).

    Don’t forget the extended versions, in the second one we have a nice presentation of the dwarves to Beorn (similar to the presentation to Bilbo). Must of the dwarves are useless so I think it would be a great thing to have the second presentation at the middle of your cut.

    Dol Guldur is 50/50. Some moments are really bad like the fight scene :/…

    You’re doing a nice job, and I will wait for a proper 1080p version 🙂
    (Sorry for my english)

    Like

  20. Muzer says:

    I just watched this. I’m very impressed, it does indeed turn The Hobbit trilogy into a well-paced, watchable single film. There are a few nitpicks I had, most of which have already been mentioned. I’ll just say that the battle at the end involving Bilbo, Thorin, etc. didn’t quite feel right, probably in part because of the necessity of cutting out Tauriel from it. It just didn’t feel like I quite understood what was going on. Sadly a limitation of the source material. I would suggest when you make the next version you don’t attempt to change the flow within any more scenes like you did here (I know there were others aside from this one, some of which worked better and some of which didn’t), because (simply because of the limited possibilities of editing) it can become rather jarring.

    Like

  21. Brad says:

    Hi there!
    After watching the edit to your film, I turned to my brother and said, “I’m going to have some choice words with this fan-editor…and almost all of them are going to be positive!” Ha ha, for real, I wanted to thank you for doing what you did.

    Some of the stuff you did here was so obviously thoughtful and “lovingly” edited. I especially liked the way you managed to take out all the dwarf shenanigans with the gold-smelting, etc. That was when I realized that the trilogy was doomed, but it seems like you have amazingly shown that it can still be saved! I’m so grateful that talented people like yourself are working to “tease out” the book-oriented film that was so buried in bloated Hollywood-style moviemaking.

    My main concern when watching this was it appeared that you were so focused on keeping the run-time under three hours that it got really, really cut up and rushed in places that it didn’t need to, and the results were that some scenes just seemed really unnatural. My humble suggestion would be that you possibly consider increasing the film time (not including the credits) to around 3 hours and thirty minutes, or possibly even 3:45.

    I watched your cut with great interest and took many notes…if you’re interested, I’d love to leave you some feedback for your next edit, just respond with an affirmative if you’d like them. You’re so close to fixing this whole Hobbit-trilogy blunder! Don’t give up!

    – b

    Like

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