Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

a film review.

A word of warning before you start posting indignant comments and writing angry emails: if you are a fan of this movie you'd better skip reading this.

It took me about a year, but finally I watched part 1 of Peter Jackson's Hobbit Saga. I have mixed feelings about it which make writing a review difficult, but I'll still try.

The Hobbit is one of the favourite books of my childhood, I think I first read it when I was about 7 years old, and I re-read it a countless number of times afterwards. I probably know it by heart now:) What I especially like about this book is the slightly ironical tone in which it was written, where the author apparently doesn't take the characters he created or their adventures too seriously. It nearly totally lacks the pathos of The Lord Of The Rings which makes it fun to read for both kids and grown-ups. There is but one sad moment in the story when Thorin dies. Now PJ's film, on the other hand...

Peter Jackson completely changes the tone of the story and it starts already in the beginning, when the dwarves arrive to Bilbo's house, though this part of the movie (and the game of riddles with Gollum which I'll talk about later) is the closest to the original text. The dwarves in the book are annoying the heck out of Bilbo with their demands and rudeness, but they are shown as a group of travellers, not a band of warriors.

They are not dressed in rags but rather in nice colourful clothes (I have only a Dutch version by the hand so I can't quote and you'll have to believe me or you can go to the library to check). They bring their tools and musical instruments, instead of weapons. In fact, Thorin only gets a sword after his encounter with trolls. Jackson's dwarves, on the other hand, look like  hardened mercenaries. Then the drama starts...

As you have probably noticed in The Lord Of The Rings series, Jackson is extremely fond of drama, so that he creates it when there is none in the original text. I have read somewhere that the scenario of the film was written by his wife and another woman, which could explain the fact that especially in the beginning it sometimes reminded me a soap opera about life in Shire, but it's also possible that Mrs Jackson was operating under her husband's instructions, and it's simply his ideas about what makes a good film.

 The original book was called The Hobbit because it actually was a story about the adventures of a hobbit, Mr Bilbo Baggins, and there was little potential for drama, but Jackson discovered it in the person of our  alpha male or rather alpha dwarf, Thorin Oakenshild, King Under The Mountain, whom Jackson probably modelled after William Wallace the Braveheart. At least, these are the associations Jackson's Thorin created in me.

Tolkien's Thorin is an important person, and he is probably the only one from the whole company who has had a combat experience. He is shown as an arrogant type with a very high opinion about himself, but he doesn't really get murderous inclinations until the very end of the book when he is forced to part with his treasure, while Jackson's Thorin, on the other hand, looks willing enough to cut the throat of anyone who stands in his path, be it an elf or an orc or even a hobbit.

Tolkien's dwarves start their journey hoping to get back a small part of their gold stolen by Smaug, and they  hardly behave in any sort of heroic fashion until the battle of the 5 armies, and the book shows them as rather comical characters. Treasure hunting turns into the second Return of the King and Thorin becomes a tragic hero worthy of the poems of Byron, if not tragedies of Shakespeare, especially because we know that
 he is going to die in the end.

To create even more drama, Jackson adds the story of Azog, who is long dead by the time the events of The Hobbit take place, but Jackson resurrects him and makes him just as obsessed with Thorin as Thorin is with him. In the book, it was Bolg, the son of Azog who was the leader of the Orc armies, and it was he who was trying to revenge his father, but where Tolkien uses one short sentence, Jackson creates the whole parallel story line.

Just as it was the case with The Lord Of The Rings, Peter Jackson took a lot of liberties with the original text, which is not a problem in itself, and sometimes can even improve the story, but the original Hobbit is a children's book, which can't be said about Jackson's movie, imo. Of course, there were some moments meant specially for kids, like the introduction of Radagast and his rabbits. Nearly everyone seemed to criticise him, but I personally found him one of the most sympathetic characters of the whole movie.

However, despite Radagast and some other comical moments, the film is dark, and touches on subjects, which, I think are hardly appropriate for children. As usual, Jackson adds combat scenes where there were none in the book, so as not to lose any opportunity to show more gore and bloodshed and violence and beheadings and what not. The hint that Radagast uses drugs is totally out of place in a movie for kids, and the Witch King of Angmar was scary enough for a horror film.

Despite all this, I still enjoyed it (at times). The movie undoubtedly has some strong points, for instance the scenery, computer animation (though at times it made it too cartoonish), the acting of Gandalf, Bilbo and Thorin, the character of Radagast, some funny moments, the scene where Bilbo plays riddle game with Gollum etc etc. As far as modern films go, this one is undoubtedly quite decent; it also has lots of action and even some moral component which Jackson couldn't totally omit. However, as the screen adaptation of the famous book of J. R. R. Tolkien, it falls short, in my opinion.

Not sure if I ever watch Part 2, which is much worse, from what I read about it. Anyway, that's my take on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

News From The Home Front

So Christmas is officially  behind us and we can look forward towards the New Year. We had storm instead of snow, but yesterday the weather started improving as you can see above.

I finally finished my knitting project. I was planning to knit this sweater:

However, the pattern was so complicated that I knitted this instead:

I still have to sew on buttons and to knit a detachable collar. This is how it's supposed to look like:

Of course, in my case it will be in dark blue, too.

I hope you all had a great time celebrating Christmas with your friends and family! And didn't eat too much candy, so that you won't have to go on a diet:) We still have so much sweets left, it'll probably take us another couple of weeks to eat them all:)

I'm not sure whether I post again before the New Year, so I want to wish all my readers all the best for the coming 2014!

From Holland with love...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nostalgic Victorian Christmas

From my collection of vintage ads:

Christmas Market Oberhausen, Part 2

Oberhausen is a city in Germany close to Duesseldorf. It has the biggest shopping mall in Europe (CentrO) and it also hosts the biggest Christmas market in Germany. From where we live, it's about 2.5 hours driving (depends on whether there are traffic jams and how fast you drive through Germany, where as you probably know, there are often no speed limits on the highways).

All the shops were open till 10 p.m. and it was actually in the evening that there were the most people. Yesterday was the last day of the Christmas market. Luckily, there were enough parking lots for all the visitors, and they were free! Something which is quite unthinkable in Holland where the only thing you don't have to pay for yet, is the air you breathe.

Below are some of the pictures we took Saturday night:

All the photos were taken by my husband from his mobile.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Market Oberhausen, Germany Part 1

Inside the shopping mall:


Some of the stuff you could buy over there:

I'll post the rest of the pictures tonight.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some Personal Stuff

So 2013 is drawing to an end. I won't be sorry to see it go as it was most perfectly horrible:) It started with a close relative been taken to hospital on the 3rd of January and proceeded in the same manner. I have never been supersticious but 2013 was just not my year.

Well, it's just two weeks more to go and we all can have a fresh start. I still have some Christmas cards to write and to send, and my Christmas shopping to do. I decorated the house last week and yesterday we bought a tree, which we are planning to decorate during the weekend.

There are lots of things I wanted to write about but honestly my head is full or preparations for the holidays and I just don't feel like sitting down and writing a long post so please bear with me. I guess the fatigue has finally caught up with me and the dark days don't make things any better:) Luckily, we have some sun, too, and the weather has been so mild this far that I even risked to sit outside with a book and a cup of tea, all wrapped up, of course:)

The cat has become very fat. He now weighs about 7kg instead of 6 and is very naughty. For one, he's been awfully difficult about his food, which is probably for the better as it gives him an opportunity to lose some of this extra weight. Then he insists on sleeping on our dinner table. By some reason he finds it a very suitable place for his afternoon nap:)

My relatives are planning to go to a Christmas market in Germany and have invited me to join them, but I couldn't as I still have a lot of things to do. I'm behind with my ironing and house cleaning and couldn't possibly spare a day, but may be we'll be able to go there on Saturday. If we do, I'll post the pictures!

Well, that's about all for today. I hope you all are doing fine! May be, one of these days I'll manage to finally write this long post I have been planning for so long, so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Do You Want A Happy Marriage?

Do you want a happy marriage? Be a submissive wife, says a new book:

A book advising newly-wed women on how to be "submissive" has become a publishing phenomenon in Spain...

Feminists aren't amused:

while outraging feminists who have called for it to be banned. 

Why does it not surprise me?
The book was written by  an Italian lady and is currently a bestseller both in Italy and Spain. Among other things, it tells women to be good housewives:

 "It's true, you're not yet an experienced cook or a perfect housewife," she writes. "What's the problem if he tells you so? Tell him that he is right, that it's true, that you will learn.

 No wonder, feminists are so upset, it seems they are losing power all over the world, so they use their usual weapons of intimidation and censorship:

Women's groups are considering legal action to get it banned arguing that it promotes gender violence.

For the information of grammatically challenged feminists: nouns have gender, human beings have sex, male and female. The book was published in Spain by a very brave man, the Archbishop of Granada Fransisco Javier Martinez, who said the following about the book's content:

...the furore surrounding it is "ridiculous and hypocritical" in a society that allows abortion, which he argues is a much clearer example of violence against women. 

I believe abortion in Spain is allowed throughout the whole pregnancy, so that they outliberalled even Holland, though I can be mistaken. I also find it quite ironic that the book was written by a woman, but apparently not being a progressive she is not entitled to free speech or the right to choose how to live her life.

Read the full article and the discussion over here:

Book on submissive wives becomes hit In Spain