Straight from the mouth of Gandalf himself, as it were. Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the mysterious wizard in both the LOTR trilogy and Hobbit films has moved to squash any suggestion that the new films are simply a money-making exercise. Reported in The Hollywood Reporter the venerated actor reiterated a view expressed by thousands of visitors to this site since the story first broke:
“Anyone who thinks Peter Jackson would fall for market forces around him rather than artistic integrity doesn’t know the guy or the body of his work. If we just made one movie, The Hobbit, the fact is that all the fans, the eight-, nine- and 10-year-old boys, they would watch it 1,000 times. Now, they’ve got three films they can watch 1,000 times.”
With his usual eye for detail and genius for spotting precisely the story people want to be told, Jackson has used the extra hours to fill in stories about minor characters, hint at dark background themes and generally give us a better insight into JRR Tolkien’s riotous imagination. Also, McKellen states:
“The (Hobbit) is written in a very brisk pace, so pretty major events in the story are covered in only two or three pages… (We) wanted to do a little bit more character development, plus… we could also adapt the appendices of Return of the King, which is 100-odd pages of material that sort of takes place around the time of The Hobbit, so we wanted to expand the story of The Hobbit a little bit more, as did Tolkien himself. So all those factors combined gave us the material to do it.”
How many times do we hear the complaint, ‘I read the book, but they missed so much in the film they didn’t do it justice’? When a director goes in the other direction, i.e. picks up on all the little clues of a short story and expands on them, then he’s criticized for doing the opposite.
Jackson, of course, knows the consequences of all this. He is already on record with MTV as doubting his films will get the acting plaudits due to them:
“I think we’ve got great possibilities in the below-the-line categories. Above the line, I don’t think so much. I wish it was a year where we could celebrate Ian McKellen as supporting actor, or Martin Freeman – or Andy Serkis, for that matter – as a supporting actor. The acting awards seem to elude us, at least for these types of films. I don’t know why.”
Peter Jackson has a clear idea as to who should play whom in his films. He wanted Martin Freeman so badly that apparently he rescheduled shooting just to get him. Speaking to MTV Martin said:
“I got a call to say Peter had rearranged his shoot so I could do both [The Hobbit and Sherlock]. I couldn’t believe it.”
The answer to all this could be that where you have such a big cinematic experience, not so reliant on the actor to fill the stage people that hand out the awards simply fail to notice the tremendous individual performances going in to it. It is looking very much that, as Sir Ian says, artistic integrity are the watchwords for the Hobbit trilogy.
Sir Ian McKellen has, himself a history of filling the stage, notably in Shakesperian drama and his exploits in The Rings trilogy certainly resonate. He is Gandalf in my mind. Maybe, just maybe this time, someone will get the recognition they deserve.