The other day I watched a video clip from the movie set of The Hobbit, one of the most classic novels of the 20th century and a film scheduled to be released in 2012 by director Peter Jackson. Jackson, as you might know, was also the director of The Lord of The Rings trilogy of films (the sequel to The Hobbit) which netted him Oscar nominations for all three and the coveted Best Picture Award for the final film “Return of The King”.
Every few years I like to take the plunge and re-read this classic novel and seeing this video on how it’s being filmed lit the fire for me yet again. I quickly dove into my paperback copy of The Hobbit and within the first few chapters was already re-aquainted with that same gnawing in my gut that happens every time I read it or one of the other “Rings” books.
You see, I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy worlds with dragons, wizards and trolls. Perhaps it’s the chivalry of noble men with magic rings or the notion that good always triumphs over evil that keeps me coming back. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was consumed with playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up. In any case I love stories about bands of “brothers” who stick together on a journey and see it to its end.
That’s where my problem with Gandalf resides. Gandalf is the wizard in the story who, well let’s say nudges poor little Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) on his journey with a bunch of dwarves to slay a dragon and obtain a ransom of wealth in return. Gandalf can pretty much destroy the whole damn world if he wants to so why he seems to like to send only little people on journeys is a mystery.
But Gandalf also likes to play “Now you see me, Now you don’t” and it pisses me off.
You see Gandalf likes to get everyone together, tell them how horrible the journey might be and then sets off with them on what seems like an impossible quest. I’m sure the hobbit and dwarves are grateful to have such a powerful ally with them.
But at some early point during the adventure Gandalf likes to pull the disappearing act. Usually soon after an early battle. He’ll say something like: “Urgent matters to attend to if you must know” or some other nonsense. No amount of tears or pleading from the little guys will make him stay and the true reason for his disappearance is never revealed. He just goes off and then “magically” comes back dozens of chapters later for the final battle and to obtain the glory. Of course, ALL the way home though Gandalf never has to leave again. Nope, travels with Bilbo every step of the way for months. WTF?
As I finished the last page where Gandalf and Bilbo are laughing about their “adventure” together I couldn’t help but imagine if something like that happened today. Suppose you and a team of others were building a high-rise building. Early on one of your crew leaves for no reason but then comes back months later to hammer the final nail and claim he was a part of it.
You may have fooled the hobbits and the dwarves but not me. I’m on to you wizard.