Close window
© 2010 Festival in the Shire Journal. All rights reserved.

How to introduce romance into a movie version of The Hobbit without violating the canon (too much): A speculation

By Christine Ett

Romance? In The Hobbit?! Why, for God’s sake? The Hobbit has no romance. The Hobbit needs no romance. The Hobbit doesn’t even feature female characters. Very well, neither did The Lord of the Rings “need” any more romance, but at least it had some female characters whose roles could be built up. But whom do you build up in The Hobbit – Lobelia Sackville-Baggins?

Yes, The Hobbit was a childrens’ book originally, and it didn’t need romance. But we all know this isn’t going to be a film aimed at children. And it’s going to be a huge film costing hundreds of millions that must bring in many more millions to make it worth the producers’ while, and it cannot afford to neglect viewers who want their fantasy to have a romantic angle. I am reasonably sure there will be a love story or two on the sidelines. And since the people responsible for the script know and love their Tolkien, they will be doing their level best to make it canon-compatible. Which isn’t as difficult as it may sound.

Bard would be the most obvious candidate, being the book’s only human hero and something of a proto-Aragorn. The unassuming, somewhat grim warrior, the heir of princes living in obscurity, largely ignored, occasionally derided, magnificently rising to the task when the crisis comes... does any of this sound familiar? And we know that he must have had a family eventually – in Frodo’s time his grandson rules Dale. Nothing more natural, then, than to introduce a lady love for Bard. I rather think they will.

It would be easy to stress the similarity with Aragorn even further. Introducing a female character out of the blue might look contrived and would take up valuable running time. It is always easier to use an existing context, and there happens to be one: there is the character of the Master of Laketown, rich, calculating, with a good eye for his own advantage. Assuming he had a daughter, would he look upon a budding romance between the lady and the archer with a friendly eye? Probably not – the daughter’s choice would not be good enough for her father. A well-worn but very imaginable solution, in keeping both with fairy-tale tradition and with Tolkien’s writings and providing yet another thematic link with the LotR movies. If there must be romance, this would be quite an appealing one.

There is a problem, of course: Bard is unlikely to appear before the second Hobbit movie, so whatever his story, the first movie still appears stuck in male-only limbo. What, then, about a slightly less obvious romantic hero – Bilbo himself?

Of course this one could not have a happy ending. We know that Bilbo never married. But nowhere does it say – or even imply – that he never considered it. At the beginning of the tale Bilbo Baggins is well-off, still young by hobbit standards, and eligible with a vengeance. It would be entirely in character if he spent his afternoons walking out with a young lady of the Bolger, Burrows or Banks family. What, then, about this scenario – Bilbo returns a year later to find himself presumed dead and to discover that the girl has become attached to somebody else? Or, even more poignant, that Bilbo himself has changed so much that the affair comes to a natural end? That, too, would be quite compatible with the written canon. It would also make for a seamless connection with LotR – because we know that Bilbo will be alone until he finds a soulmate and an heir in Frodo, and because of the startling echo of the last minutes of The Return of the King. Frodo’s line – “How do you pick up the threads of an old life?” – could just as well have been spoken by Bilbo. The Hobbit puts the sentiment rather more lightheartedly – it was, after all, a childrens’ book originally. But then we all know this isn’t going to be a film aimed at children.

Close window

Found this page without going through the magazine front page? Click here: Festival in the Shire Journal. For all things Tolkien inspired.