There are no spoilers in this post.
Yesterday I went to see “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” I went to the full IMAX 3D version, $12.75 for a matinée. It would be silly for me to try to review it, because I can’t think of a single meaningfully critical thing to say. In fact, most of the reviews I’ve read have been silly, as the reviewers strain to come off as more knowing and more gifted than Peter Jackson. Jackson is a genius. Tolkien was a genius. It would be a criminal act to miss this work of genius while it’s still in IMAX theaters.
I had never been to an IMAX film before, or to a 3D film. The effect was stunning. It gave me vertigo at times, and I had a headache for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. And by the way I very rarely have headaches now that I’m retired. Headaches are for the awful world of work. But it’s a strain to stare at a screen for three hours, neck locked most of the time. When the camera was at a lofty height, looking down, and spinning (imagine yourself in the clutches of a giant eagle), I got vertigo. But that’s probably what the director intended.
I like to try to take stories apart to try to see what makes them tick. Part of the genius of Tolkien’s work is that his stories resist this process. One alternative is to try to look at Tolkien’s life for clues. As most people know, he was a professor of language and early literature at Oxford. He was affected by both World Wars. He was deeply distrustful of modernity and industrialization. A long hike in the unspoiled Alps when he was a teenager apparently inspired his mountain settings and his long treks. He loved languages, and in particular he loved the English language.
Anyway, this is not a review. It’s just a reminder to go see “The Hobbit” on a big screen.