The Final Middle-Earth Movie Approaches

Can it be next month yet? I want Battle of the Five Armies, like, yesterday.

Released in 2001, 2002, and 2003, The Lord of the Rings movies were the must-see movies of my high school years. I was a senior in high school when The Return of the King was released. I saw it in theaters with a few of my closest friends at the time, and I wept. I cried not only because the movie was sad (particularly when everyone bows to the hobbits in Minas Tirith, and when Sam, Merry, and Pippin say goodbye to Frodo), but because I never thought, at that time, Peter Jackson would ever go back to make a movie based on The Hobbit, let alone three.

And now here we are, eleven years after The Return of the King, and what phrases and hashtags are being used in The Hobbit trailers? “The Defining Chapter”, “Prepare for the defining moment of the Middle-Earth Legend”, “Join the Last Journey to Middle-Earth” and #OneLastTime

I mean, come on. Could they try any harder to make me feel like I did back in 2003?

Anyway, a new official trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released last Thursday:

In it, we see Lake-Town burning and Bard blaming Thorin (obviously) for Lake-Town burning. We see Bard riding alongside Thranduil through the elven armies preparing for battle. We hear Thranduil say “I came to reclaim something of mine.” We also see many orcs marching, presumably towards Erebor, as well as bats flying there. Legolas states, “These bats are bred for one purpose: for war.”

We also see Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman, and Gandalf at Dol Goldur. Galdalf appears to be on his death-bed, but we know that he does not die, because he appears in The Lord of the Rings, which comes after The Hobbit. By the way, The White Council’s meeting at (and attack upon) Dol Goldur is not a Peter Jackson fabrication. If you look at the year 2939 in Appendix B of The Return of the King, it says this:

Saruman discovers that Sauron’s servants are searching the Anduin [River] near Gladden Fields, and that Sauron therefore has learned of Isildur’s end. (Isildur cut the ring from Sauron’s hand.) He is alarmed, but says nothing to the Council.

Later, in the year 2941, it says this:

The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Goldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River. Sauron having made plans abandons Dol Goldur.

In the trailer, Saruman says, “Leave Sauron to me.” Appendix B tells us that he knows more than he is letting on. In fact, during the meeting of The White Council in An Unexpected Journey, Saruman seems to be discouraging the others from considering any possible approaching war, while Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond seem to be more concerned about the possibility of war—especially Gandalf. Either Saruman genuinely doesn’t believe that evil has returned in Middle-Earth, or he is trying to make the others think he doesn’t know as much as he knows. I believe that the latter is true. Why? Because I think, even now, Saruman is tempted by the ring and wants to find it for himself.

And yet, Gandalf seems to be blamed for everything. Others seem to think that because he encouraged the dwarves to reclaim Erebor, it is his fault that they awoke the dragon. Thranduil says to Gandalf in the trailer, “You started this; you will forgive me if I finish it.” And yet, if the dwarves had not come, Bard would not have killed Smaug. Then, later, if the dwarves, elves, and men had not been at Erebor already preparing for battle (spoiler alert) they would not have been able to come together under Gandalf’s urging (in the trailer, he says “You have but one question to answer: how shall this day end?”) to defeat the goblins, wargs, orcs, bats and more when they come to claim the mountain. In the end, had the dwarves not come to Erebor, Sauron’s armies would have taken Erebor—with the dragon still alive in it—without any problems.

I bring all this up, because I wonder just how much deeper Peter Jackson intends to go into the Appendices to tell the story. Whenever Gandalf leaves the company in The Hobbit (book), we don’t find out where he goes. In the Appendices, we find out where he goes (Dol Goldur) and why. I also wonder whether he plans to use the Appendices to tie The Battle of the Five Armies and The Fellowship of the Ring together—but in a much better way than George Lucas tried to tie Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope together by turning back time 30 years.

For example, in the year 2942, it says:

Bilbo returns to the Shire with the Ring. Sauron returns in secret to Mordor.

Or later, in the year 2944, it references the rebuilding of Dale (not Lake-Town):

Bard rebuilds Dale and becomes King. Gollum leaves the Mountains and begins his search for the “thief” of the Ring.

Here’s another that I would love to see included from the year 2949:

Gandalf and Balin visit Bilbo in the Shire.

We know from The Return of the King that Peter Jackson loves his denouements. I have heard many people complain about how many endings that movie has, but I love it. I love seeing a Middle-Earth at peace and I want that part of the movie to last as long as possible. Likewise with Battle of the Five armies. Don’t get me wrong—I love epic battle scenes as much as the next guy, but I also want to see something so simple as Bilbo receiving a visit from Galdalf and Balin. Honestly, given the choice between Hogwarts (after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Middle-Earth during the Fourth Age (after The Return of the King), I would probably choose Middle-Earth, but it would be a difficult choice.

We use hints from the Appendices to guess at what Peter Jackson plans to include in Battle of the Five Armies, but one thing we won’t know for certain until we see the movie: whether Tauriel lives or dies. Remember that Tauriel was a complete Peter Jackson fabrication; there is no mention of her in the book or the Appendices. Jackson chose to create the character, because Tolkien did not write any female characters into The Hobbit (Galadriel appears in the Appendices), not including her might have appeared sexist. Besides, including her makes for a better story.

What do you want to see most in the final Middle-Earth movie? Share your thoughts below!