After a minute-long pause of all of us just staring at each other, Peter Jackson and Anderson Cooper confirmed that everyone watching on the internet was officially “offline.” Peter Jackson spoke for a few minutes about what we were about to see: the music video for “I See Fire,” followed by twenty minutes of film from The Desolation of Smaug. While he assumed that most of us had blogs, he politely asked that we not give too many spoilers away, and then, he instilled the fear of Sauron in us if we tried to record any of it. On that note, I will try not to give away too much in terms of spoilers, but if you have not read the book, this will definitely contain spoilers for you.
When I first heard “I See Fire,” I thought it was missing something. It had the eerie, foreboding feeling that “May It Be” had, but it lacked the grandeur and oomph that were so well executed in “Into the West” and “May It Be.” I think my major criticism was that the lyrics were not nearly as relatable as the other songs in the franchise; they were a little hokey and very literal. He even uses the word “desolation.” That being said, Ed Sheeran is extremely talented both musically and vocally; he played almost every instrument on the song, and he did ALL of it in 48 hours. He watched The Desolation of Smaug, went into a studio, and had most of the song finished by the end of the first day. The second day was mostly spent tweaking what he had already done. After learning this and after reading what Peter Jackson wrote about the experience, my opinion changed. You can’t compare Ed Sheeran to Enya or Annie Lennox—they’re too different. Also, maybe it’s better to have a younger voice on the more juvenile story; Ed is 22. One step further, this is the only song to come from the franchise that you can actually rock out to.
We are treated to a recorded version of the former message from Peter Jackson, asking us not to give too much away, and reminding us that if a recording gets out, he’ll stop hosting fan events. The first scene is of Bilbo climbing to the top of a giant tree in Mirkwood. He pokes is head out at the top, over layers of leaves, causing blue butterflies to stir nearby. He looks out over the canopy, and the audience is treated to a beautiful, aerial view of the landscape, seeing what Bilbo sees: a lake, a river, and the Lonely Mountain looming in the distance. They’re not too far now, and Bilbo yells to relay that message. Unfortunately, his companions are unresponsive. He then notices the trees, rustling in the distance—something is coming towards them. He tries again to get their attention, and begins the descent down the tree, but he loses his footing, falling into a spider web. He soon becomes face-to-face with a gigantic spider, who vigorously wraps Bilbo in webbing. Bilbo comes to as he is being dragged across the forest floor, and when the spider dragging Bilbo turns to inspect his prey, Bilbo stabs the spider and cuts himself free. Upon first glance, he sees that all of the Dwarves are in webbed bundles, captives of the spiders of Mirkwood. Bilbo slips on the ring to evade the swarm of spiders approaching him, and we can now hear the voices of the spiders. Their voices are high-pitched and scratchy, almost like a cross between Gollum and an Orc. Bilbo begins stabbing at a spider who screams “where are you?” Bilbo slips off the ring, declares “right here!” and stabs the spider one last time. The spider shrieks “it stings!” before falling to his death. Bilbo, looking rather satisfied at his sword says, “Sting. That’s a good name for you,” and the scene ends.
Next, we see Thranduil, Legolas, and Tauriel interrogating an Orc who had been trailing the Dwarves. Tauriel’s hotheadedness leads to her lunging to kill the Orc, ultimately getting her dismissed from the questioning. Thranduil tries to take a more polite approach to the questioning, claiming that he will free the Orc if he tells them what they want to know. What the Orc says next has already caused a lot of fuss online, so there are quite a few places now where you can theorize what is happening. I think that this will be cleared up next month when the movie comes out, so I won’t go in to too much detail. All you need to know is that what the Orc says nearly stops Thranduil in his tracks, causing him to “free” the Orc via beheading. Legolas is confused by what the Orc said and by his father’s rash decision, so this has also led to some more “fuss” online. Google at will, people.
In the third scene, we get to see the Bilbo helping the Dwarves escape from the Silvan Elves. He has the keys to their cells and frees them. You can see that the Dwarves are still reluctant to trust Bilbo, as he instructs them to walk further into the camp instead of towards an exit. They eventually follow, past two sleeping guards, and to a cellar where Bilbo instructs them to get into the barrels that are horizontally stacked in rows towards the back of the cellar. When the Dwarves resist again, Thorin instructs them to “do as he says,” and they climb into the barrels. Bilbo pulls a lever at the other end of the cellar, and a trapdoor opens on the floor, dumping all of the barrels into the river below. The trapdoor closes before Bilbo can get out (if you’ve read the book, this is where things become a bit different), and he can hear more Elves coming as Tauriel has noticed that they have been freed from their cells. Bilbo kind of confusedly ambles around on the door, finally positioning himself on a counterweight. The trapdoor begins to teeter open, and Bilbo, standing in the same position, just slides right down the ramp. This scene really shows the silly, innocent aspect of Bilbo that Martin Freeman has portrayed so well; his expressions are quite hysterical. Bilbo drops into the river where the Dwarves have been holding onto rocks, waiting for him, and they all continue on, down the river.
The next scene opens with the Dwarves and Bilbo on a boat with Bard the Bowman, who is leading them through the ruins of Dale towards Lake-town. The Dwarves are trying to figure out how to pay Bard for his assistance and secrecy, so they all turn out their pockets. Gloin is hesitant to throw his money into the pot, claiming that this trip has brought him nothing but misery (like father, like son, I guess). Gloin stops grumbling at the sight of the Lonely Mountain, and hands a small bag of coins to Thorin. They come upon a trading post, and Bard demands payment so he can pay off the traders; he also instructs the company to get into their barrels. While the Dwarves suspect that Bard is selling them out, they do as he says. Fish are dumped inside of the barrels, on top of everyone, and some things start to click in my brain. However, a lot of this is confusing, since there is nothing remotely like this in the book. Are they going to meet the Master of Lake-town? Are they still hiding from the Elves? The camera then zooms out, and pans briefly across Lake-town before the screen goes black. It’s simply stunning. If you’ve seen some of the video production blogs, though, you know that already, and believe me, you don’t see anything different in this scene except, perhaps, the town from a different angle.
And, the final scene, which was no surprise but a huge treat, is of Bilbo entering Erebor. There are a few pieces of this scene that I take issue with, and if you read the book, you’ll understand why. The scene opens with Balin and Bilbo presumably past the Secret Door, discussing the Arkenstone. Balin asks after the stone, telling Bilbo that he’ll know it when he sees it. It is difficult to tell if the discussion of who was to go into the Lonely Mountain really took place. Balin and Bilbo have a brief heart-to-heart where Balin tells him that he appreciates the courage of Hobbits, wishes him luck, and disappears back down the hallway. Bilbo enters Smaug’s lair, and you’re immediately overwhelmed by the size of the hoard that the dragon has. Martin Freeman’s silly side comes out again as Bilbo sorts through light colored jewels; assuming that he’ll know the Arkenstone when he sees it, he glares at a particular tiny lot, anticipating an “aha moment” that never comes. He then begins climbing over the mountains and piles of gold; the slinking, clanging sounds of metals and jewels are unavoidable. This is something that I thought was done particularly well; every centimeter that Bilbo moved had a sliding, metallic sound to it, and the sounds were expertly paired with the movements and shifts of the loot as he walked. Bilbo finds what I presume is the golden cup that he leaves with, but when he lifts it, the coins begin to shift, revealing the eye of the dragon. The sheer size of Smaug in comparison to Bilbo is astonishing, and the Hobbit tries to sneak away, but he cannot control the sounds of shifting treasure under his feet. Smaug’s eye opens, and he begins to move; piles of gold and gems slide off of the dragon’s body as he begins to sit up, unveiling a massive form, and the screen goes black. So, I’m assuming that Smaug is awake…
We will see what really happens when we see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on December 13. Until then, if anyone has any questions about what I saw or how the scenes compare to the books, please comment below, and I will try my best to answer.
I want to thank TheOneRing.net for passing the tickets on to us so we could have this awesome opportunity to write about something that I am so passionate about. Also, thank you, Shep, for letting me take the lead on this! 🙂