Part three of The Hobbit trilogy has come and, in all likelihood, is the last of Middle-Earth’s time on the big screen. Fans never thought they would have to wait nine years from the original trilogy to revisit this world that became a bit of a December tradition. And so that now ends, but Middle-Earth will never leave us.
It has been over seventy-five years since The Hobbit was first published. How many books endure that long? Few. Fewer still inspire films that don’t quickly fade from history. Fans argued which film trilogy was better. Such arguments usually ignored the fact that you couldn’t expect to compare the two. The books themselves were quite different, Tolkien never changing the style of his first to match the latter volumes. He didn’t feel the need to change it, other than a few details. So the filmmakers had to find a careful balance: Make The Hobbit more in line with the look and feel of the first films without losing its unique, and lighter, traits.
Keeping that in mind, the films largely succeeded. By the end of the latest, you are shown a Middle-Earth that is changing and the future holds darkness. Not the finality of The Return of the King, because it isn’t the end. It is a prologue to what is to come (or what has already passed, depending how you look at it).
Why has Middle-Earth captured readers (and now film lovers) for so long? Why has it inspired so much in the fantasy and other genres?
Because behind all the creatures, the fantastic battles, wizards and elves, it’s about people. People who stand against evil, who never abandon each other even in the darkest times, and risk it all in the process.
It’s the Story about who we all want to be. What we were meant to be.