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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies teaser trailer analysis


Why The Hobbit is like Firefly and Star Wars, plus more pop culture references...

'The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies' (2014) teaser trailer analysis

The first teaser trailer for the final instalment of the Middle Earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, debuted at Comic-Con, and now Warner Bros have made it available online.

While the trailer contains some nice shots on a visual level, very much in keeping with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, about 80% of the trailer's awesome is provided by the song. Pippin's mournful song from Return of the King, that plays intercut with the doomed mission that Faramir leads on his father Denethor's orders, accompanies this trailer to great effect, lending it a dignified, elegiac beauty. It's a sad song, but sad is just happy for deep people...

According to Wikipedia (which has spoilers, in case you somehow haven't seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy yet), the song is called Edge of Night, with a melody composed by Billy Boyd himself, with lyrics adapted from Tolkien's poem A Walking Song from the book The Fellowship of the Ring. The simplicity and universality of Tolkien's words combine effectively with the understated, evocative tune. Basically, it sounds really nice.

The song, finishing with “All shall fade / All shall... / Fade...”, could also function as a lament for the ending of the franchise itself, as with Greg Edmonson's track The Funeral from the final Firefly episode shot, The Message, the music seen by cast and crew as an ode to the short-lived show itself. Also, the shot of Galadriel walking barefoot appears to be a direct visual homage to River Tam.

Having Billy Boyd sing in this trailer means that they've shoe-horned in another Lord of the Rings character into the Hobbit trilogy, in addition to Elijah Wood as Frodo, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. But it's okay, because it's an elegantly carved, ornate shoe-horn, with Elvish runes on it and everything. It probably has a name and a destiny and everything. Like the Shoe-Horn of Gondor or something.

'The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies' (2014) posterThe trailer features Luke Evans' Bard the Bowman, ostensibly the heart of the Hobbit films, earnestly presenting a choice between peace and war. Then Richard Armitage's Thorin Oakenshield, wearing a fancy, ornate crown, chooses war. Guy of Gisborne is Angry Bear! And he will recruit comedy sidekick dwarves with epic beards, Will Turner, Ned the Pie-Maker, Magneto, Doctor Watson, and Hiccup's mother, in order to fight CybOrc and flying, fire-breathing Sherlock Holmes. And I didn't know how the final Hobbit film could be more awesome before I wrote that sentence.

The trailer promises that The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies will be “The defining chapter of the Middle-Earth saga”. While the film looks awesome, it's a bold claim to say that any one film of an epic six-film cycle (or double trilogy) such as this one will be the defining chapter.

What does this mean, actually? Should we take “defining” to mean “quintessential”? In which case, does that mean that the film takes what was most memorable about Lord of the Rings (and the first two Hobbit films), and accentuates those aspects? The title change would certainly seem to suggest this. Just about the only way that Lord of the Rings could be better could be better is if were more like Lord of the Rings; and now that seems a real possibility. In that case, we're to expect epic battles (well, at least one epically epic battle), gorgeous, sweeping cinematography, and tremendously evocative music.

The song in the trailer is a great indication of this, with the Lord of the Rings trilogy being musically memorable not only for Howard Shore's stirring score, but also the poignant songs featured so effectively, such as Gollum's Song and Enya's May It Be.

It's also interesting to compare The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, at least in terms of its place in the Middle-Earth saga, 'The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies' (2014) posterwith Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Both function as the final film in a six-film, two-trilogy saga (or at least, Episode III did until Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm and the plans to make more Star Wars films; and with Middle Earth, unless Peter Jackson ever gets the rights to more of Tolkien's work, which seems unlikely). As such, both films faced the task of bringing closure to a trilogy, linking it with the previously made trilogy which takes place after the one in question, and providing a satisfaction conclusion to the cinematic franchise in fans' minds.

As such, the tonal structure of the Hobbit trilogy and the Star Wars prequel trilogy could be considered to be broadly similar. Both start with a lighter, more adventuresome first film, followed by a more intense second film, and concluding with a dark, highly emotional third film cementing the ties (if that mixed metaphor makes any sense) to the first trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is released on December 17, 2014 in 2D, 3D, and HFR 3D.


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#1 "I know what it is you saw." A Chicken 2014-07-30 16:06
Wasn't Galadriel barefoot in _Fellowship_ (which was released years before Firefly/Serenity) ???

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