By March 24, 2010 2 Comments Read More →

Reading the Screen: Tolkien Adaptations Can Be Hobbit Forming

You’ve probably heard that Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, is making a movie out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit (1937).

You might not know that somebody already made a movie out of the book. Rankin/Bass, the studio that brought us the Christmas classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, did a Hobbit movie for TV in 1977. The animation is good, and the movie sticks reasonably closely to Tolkien’s story.

The movie was nominated for a Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but, shockingly, lost to a low-budget, little-seen movie called Star Wars. Yeah, I never heard of it either.

On the other hand we have The Soddit: Or, Let’s Cash in Again (2003), a very clever parody by A.R.R.R. Roberts, who’s better known as soddit Adam Roberts, author of some very good science fiction novels. If you’re a fan of The Hobbit you’ll recognize bits and pieces of Tolkien’s story, but I’ll warn you right now: the book is crude, warped, howlingly funny, and not especially respectful to its source material. 

In case you’re interested, Roberts also wrote a parody of The Da Vinci Code, called The Va Dinci Cod, that is about a million times more entertaining than Dan Brown’s ponderous tome. And, come to think of it, a rousing parody of Star Wars (whatever that is), called Star Warped.

We can only assume del Toro’s take on Tolkien’s story will be closer to the Rankin/Bass intepretation than Roberts’. And, if you’re a fan of the director, you should check out  The Strain (2009), a really creepy vampire novel del Toro wrote with Chuck Hogan.



About the Author:

David Pitt lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to reviewing for Booklist, he writes a monthly column about paperback fiction and nonfiction for the Winnipeg Free Press. He has contributed to The Booklist Reader since 2010.

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