Getting into The Hobbit of it (groan)

British newspaper the Daily Mail reported today that Lost star Evangeline Lilly had been in Wellington to film The Hobbit – photographed, it seems, walking along Oriental Parade.

A photo I took of Oriental Parade and bay in early 2011.

It’s the sort of thing, I suppose, that British tabloids might find interesting. But although there was a monkey-see-monkey-do repeat in the local paper, nobody really noticed or cared (personally, I wouldn’t know her if I fell over her, I don’t watch Lost or, indeed, any TV much at all).

That bay is, incidentally, a lovely place to walk with its streamline moderne apartments punctuating older San Francisco-style turn-of-the-century villas and its wonderful, wonderful harbour views. There’s a restaurant in an old band rotunda which is the best place to watch the scenery. And there’s an inspirational ‘writers’ walk’ at the end, which I’m intending to share with readers in a while (need a sunny day first).

The thing is, though, that Lilly is out here to play ‘Tauriel’ in The Hobbit. Now, I’ve just finished re-reading that book, and there is not the slightest hint of an elf called Tauriel in it. Not even a little bit. So what’s up?

A friend of mine put it this way: ‘Addressing the absence of female characters; fine in a book, not so in today’s movie biz. A sensible move commercially, and f*** the purists. Seriously, not a bad thing.’ He’s right, of course. Tolkien’s main weakness was lack of female characters – the ones he did have in LOTR were cyphers at best (although that was also true of some of his male characters). Character development wasn’t his real forte or the thing that made his work so great. Yet being able to address modern audiences is a Good Thing.

Now, I’m a huge, huge Jackson fan. Not just because I share a city and a birthday with him (he’s a year older). Because he’s a fantastic film-maker, and his stuff speaks to Kiwis – check out his 1950s New Zealand in Brain Dead. Perfect rendition. Including the beer crates and the rotocut. Fantastic.

But I still have a nagging feeling that – well, a few years back LOTR script co-writer Phillipa Boyens explained to me that they hadn’t written the LOTR script for fans. They were fans. Which is great. So am I. But sometimes there’s a problem with fan-written stuff. Ponderosity. Literalism. Like the middle hour of King Kong. Um. We’ll see.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2011