Is there anything so abysmally bad as Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy? In your conscience, now. Have you ever seen anything so atrocious? Be honest.
I may be alone in my desperate bull-brained hatred of those particular films, but I think everyone has felt the anticipation, hope, excitement and disappointment of having a beloved book slashed to ribbons and stitched into a patchwork quilt of cool mediocrity. For some, it’s the Hunger Games. For others, it might be Frankenstein.
It doesn’t matter what your book was. When you saw it pale and sterilized on the silver screen, you knew that something had gone horribly wrong.
I remember my mom used to make covers for some of her books. She covered up the original illustrations with plain white paper so she wouldn’t have to look at them. When I asked her why she did it, she said something like this:
“I don’t like the picture of (the main character). That’s not how I picture her in my head.”
The commercial artist who did that cover illustration had messed something up. He or she got it wrong. There was a disconnect between the vision that the author projected into the reader’s mind and the vision that the illustrator had executed.
And this happens all the time. Authors are painters with words, and unless an artist is intimately familiar with those words, how can they visualize them authentically? The reader and writer are very close, and illustrators have to wedge themselves in, somehow.
So why bother with illustrations at all?
Really, some books should not be illustrated. Non-fiction should not be illustrated. Autobiographies of politicians should not be illustrated. But sometimes, artists can show you something in a new way.
Pictured above is one of Tove Jansson’s illustrations for the Hobbit. These caught me off guard this morning, and I had to look for more of them. Tove Jansson was a Finnish illustrator and storyteller, best known for her stories about the Moomins, a lovable race of hippo people.
They’re so free, loose, and fun! This is appropriate, because the Hobbit is a fun book. It’s chock-full of songs, dancing, and feasting.
Tell me this, Peter Jackson. Which is a better interpretation of the Hobbit: your high-definition, 30 frames-per-second slaughter-action-fest, which altogether runs for nearly 9 hours, or the picture below?
My apologies to people who like the Hobbit movies. I just get so mad sometimes.
Bonus! Here’s one of Tolkien’s original artworks for the Hobbit. See more here.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, 1936