Saw The Hobbit today. A couple of quick thoughts. I haven’t read the book in quite awhile but my take on the film is that it’s a kid’s movie… an adventure. It’s set in Middle Earth but the “feel” of it is supposed to be more light-hearted… like a hobbit. So to really try and compare it to Lord of the Rings is not entirely fair. While some characters have overlap, the book has its own tone.
The book as it is portrayed in the first installment is about virtue. Tolkien, like CS Lewis his contemporary and friend, was well versed in the classical virtues. Really what you see is that one can only become wise and fully flourish in life when their life is connected deeply to virtuous living. So the movie is about Bilbo Baggins’ journey (growth) in virtue.
The virtue that struck me was courage. Lewis himself once wrote that courage was one of the primary virtues to cultivate and grow inside of us. Bilbo must leave the Shire, a very serene place that is insulated from the danger that is all around. It represents comfort, status quo, neatness, and pantries full of food. But it’s this very thing that gnaws at the soul because we were made for something bigger than personal comfort. So Bilbo leaves all of it behind to join an adventure (reminiscent of Christ’s disciples). Courage to step out into the unknown and to connect oneself to something much bigger than themselves is what Tolkien and Lewis thought was sanctifying! It set you apart for something much bigger… holiness, adventure, love, wholeness. And so on hand we have courage lived out in Bilbo.
But we also see courage demonstrated in Thorin Oakenshield, the dwarf king. At one point he realizes just how wrong he was about Bilbo. He demonstrates the courage to face even his own prejudices and misconceptions and admit them. The virtuous person must no only act in a way that is courageous in the face of danger or the unknown but one must act courageously to admit the wretchedness of their own heart.
This is why both Lewis and Tolkien saw courage as one of the central virtues in our lives. How is courage being cultivated in your heart? As followers of Jesus, are you on an adventure into the unknown? Are you in your own personal Shire (oh man, does Orange County feel like the Shire a lot of the times)? How do you live your life from to help those who don’t have a home, get a home (and you can take that in whatever way you want!)? Also, how courageous are you to recognize the sinful patterns of your own heart and to call them for they really are? Would people see you as honest with yourself? Would they tell you that?
Last, we saw it in HFR/3D today. I was very impressed with the technology. Honestly, I thought it was amazing. At times the CGI was rendered to look more cartoon-like but that did not detract from the overall experience. At times, it honestly looked like the characters were performing live before you.I know it’s more expensive, but go to a matinee. You won’t be disappointed.