It's official: The Hobbit films are not an adaptation of the book, says PhD student
WHILE cinema-goers enjoy the next instalment of the multi-million-pound blockbuster The Hobbit starring Sir Ian McKellen, a University of Bolton lecturer has examined the book versus the film as part of his studies.
Dr Chris Bateman has been researching whether the trilogy of films is an adaptation of the much-loved novel — or a prequel to the Lord of the Rings.
And he has concluded that while the new movies are prequels to Peter Jackson’s film trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, “they can’t easily” be considered an adaptation of The Hobbit.
Dr Bateman, who is in the final stages of his PhD by Publication in Game Aesthetics, said: “The new movies definitely use the material in Tolkien’s first book, but to adapt The Hobbit you have to make movies on the basis of that particular book.
“That’s not what Peter Jackson has done.
“Instead, he’s made an entirely new story that is a prequel to his own movie trilogy, using content from both The Hobbit and the appendices to The Lord of the Rings.
“This doesn’t change the fact that Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit, isn’t actually a prequel to The Lord of the Rings.”
Dr Bateman put his case in a paper entitled What Are We Playing With? Role-taking, Role-play And Story-Play With Tolkien’s Legendarium, which was accepted into the International Journal of Play and will appear in the publication early this year.
Dr Bateman said: “The Lord of the Rings is a sequel to The Hobbit, but The Hobbit isn’t really a prequel to The Lord of the Rings. It reads very strangely if you approach it like that.
“On the other hand, Peter Jackson has made movies from The Hobbit that genuinely are prequels to his earlier movie trilogy, but that fact doesn’t make the book of The Hobbit a prequel to Tolkien’s epic novels.”
The paper builds on work Dr Bateman published in his book Imaginary Games (2011), which compares the way people enjoy paintings, sculpture, books and films to the way children enjoy playing with toy guns, dolls and hobby horses, and uses this to argue that all games — including video games — are art.
According to Dr Bateman, the way we relate to an artwork, whether a painting, a novel, or a film, is by a game of make-believe we play with it.
Imaginary Games is followed by The Mythology Of Evolution (2012), which looks at the role of imagination in the sciences, and Chaos Ethics (May, 2014), which explores the role that story and narrative have in grounding morality and defends the idea of “moral chaos”.
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