Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lecture: Style vs Function in The Hobbit

Remember when you saw one of The Hobbit films (which should’ve been only recently) and you thought “there’s something about this that doesn’t really work, but I don’t know what it is”? Well,  Dublin Business School film student Sean Hickey put together this engaging video essay comparing the The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the more recent The Hobbit trilogy.  His  argument in a nutshell is that, between style and substance, substance will always wins.

The difference between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as so many films like it, is a matter of maturity and restraint. How do the action sequences, love scenes, and expositional moments differ between the two? In LOTR, they're restrained -- Jackson gives you less so you want more in the end. However in The Hobbit, Jackson gives you pretty much whatever you want -- plenty of exposition, insane action, as well as plenty of CGI to pull the latter off. This makes it more difficult for you to make a truly deep connection with the characters or feel any real tension as they're put to the test.

To put it simply: The Hobbit focused more on style, while the earlier LOTR was  more focused on shoe-horning three expansive and intricately-plotted books into feature-length films.  The were, in short, brimming over with substance.

If you're a burgeoning young filmmaker, this is an excellent lesson. From the moment you start writing the script to the moment you finish editing, you must ask yourself what your focus is - style or substance. 

Do you agree with the points made in Hickey's video essay? Let us know in the comments below.

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