The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0
An Unexpected Update – 6/01/2020:
Hello everyone! Due to the ample time provided by COVID-19 quarantines, I finally have had time to address frequently reported issues with audio lag. Not only did I find the source of the problem and have a fix, but I am also working on a new subtitled version and experimenting with different file sizes. Expect more updates in the coming weeks, and thank you to everyone who has supported and recommended this adaptation of The Hobbit over the years!
I’m happy to declare that a 4.0 patched version is available for download! For best viewing experience on a computer, watch in Quicktime or VLC. The file is 6gb and formatted for widescreen. Patch notes will be posted once I have the full update ready to go, hopefully by the end of June (exporting times have been painful and crash-happy, hence the long delay). If you’re low on hard-drive space, here is a 2gb compressed version. Stay tuned, and thanks again for your continued support of this project!
4 Hour Fan-Adaptation of the Peter Jackson Hobbit Trilogy
The Hobbit has always had a special place in my heart. One of my earliest memories is that of my father reading The Hobbit to me before bed. Ever since, I’ve had a passion for reading and immersive storytelling. I voraciously read all of Tolkien’s work in elementary school, soaking in the books and films at any chance I could. In middle school I would watch the behind-the-scene bonus material of The Lord of the Rings films almost as attentively as I did the films themselves. It was my childhood dream to work with Peter Jackson and be part of the team that brought The Hobbit to life on the big screen. By the time I was in high school it had been announced the film was being made. I couldn’t have been more excited, even if I was too young to be part of the production.
I vividly remember sitting in the theatre for the first of the Hobbit films with my family, a huge rush of nostalgia and joy washing over me. I knew the book by heart, I’d seen the animated film dozens of times and seen the LOTR films countless more, and here I expected the same quality. Now, let it be said, I really enjoyed the Hobbit films, and I have a lot of respect for the production team that brought my favorite book to life. A lot has been said about what is wrong with the Hobbit trilogy, and I myself could probably go on at length about what in particular was so disappointing about it, but if I had to explain all of that, you probably wouldn’t be here. From my very first viewing, I knew that the film could have been edited down significantly and I knew I had the knowledge and drive to do it myself. So I did.
Although I was not the first to create a Hobbit fan-edit, I was among the first four, and after three years of wide success, international interest, and a flood of comments, praise and constructive feedback, I have put together a final cut of the popular Bilbo Edition edit, a detailed revision of the three Hobbit films into a single, succinct 4-hour fan adaptation modeled after the original source material.
At the time that I first set out on this project, there were only two other available fan-edits that had beat me to the punch; now there are likely over a dozen (a list of some of the best known ones can be found here). I purposefully did not watch any until I had completed my own for fear of being influenced by others’ creative choices of where to cut down, added to the fear that watching other edits first would dissuade me from forging my own. Back in 2015, I was terrified that upon completion of my own edit, I would watch these other edits and find that almost the exact same cuts had been made, and that all of my care and input had been beaten in the race. Much to my surprise and joy, upon skimming through the other available fan edits then and since, I can confidently say that my film is drastically different than any other available. I think it’s really special that several super-fans can have the same idea, execute it, and end up with wildly different, yet still completely enjoyable adaptations. I was really impressed by the other fan cuts, but watching them also also helped me feel more confident in my own original voice and creative decisions.
Where other cuts focused on specifically getting the film down to its barest bones possible (the original 3 hour cut was especially impressive from an editing standpoint, although it felt rushed in its execution; the 2-Hour cut by Fiona van Dahl has since perfected this strategy), or were sacredly bound to the book canon and nothing more, my edit was always about combining the films into a single, faithful adaptation of my favorite book while retaining my favorite parts of the films. In particular, The Hobbit is about Bilbo Baggins, and the trilogy suffered from an overbalance of characters, many of which are not in the book at all. Although I understand why Jackson’s team added a lot of these additions, I knew that at the heart of this trilogy lied a fantastic film centering around the hobbit himself, perfectly embodied and performed by Martin Freeman. This fan adaptation is about Bilbo while being as faithful to the book as possible. I purposefully did not add any new music or scenes from other material, only cutting and rearranging what was already present in the trilogy and deleted footage. Major edits of The Bilbo Edition include, but are not limited to:
- Jumping straight into the story – although the flashback sequence involving the dragon’s attack on Erebor is fun, I felt that there was more drama to the dwarves’ plight when they were able to explain their situation in their own words.
- The removal of many extraneous chase and fight sequences; Azog the Defiler has largely been excised, his role dramatically repurposed.
- The love triangle between Tauriel, Kili and Legolas is completely removed, with Tauriel and Legolas only appearing in passing as brief cameos. Likewise, the subplot of Kili’s injured leg/separation from the company at Lake Town is also excised
- The barrel scene has been truncated and no longer involves a flight from orcs
- Much of The Battle of Five Armies has been cut, as even for Jackson standards the original film was pretty gratuitous
- The troll encounter, the Stone Giants, the Goblin King, and the escape from the Misty Mountains have been drastically shortened for length, tone and pace
- Gandalf’s investigation of Dol Guldur is entirely cut, as in the book we never leave Bilbo’s point of view, save for Bard during the dragon attack on Lake Town. The Bilbo Edition features a Gandalf just as mysterious, mischievous and mercurial as he appears in the book. Likewise, the White Council has been cut entirely, as has Radaghast the Brown.
- Beorn’s classic introduction from the book is happily integrated into the film
- Story shattering plotholes from the original trilogy have been corrected – for example, Smaug would have no way of knowing who Thorin Oakenshield is (he gets this name after fleeing Erebor), nor his obsession with the Arkenstone. Consequently, much of his dialogue has been streamlined and kept faithful to the book. The lengthy cat-and-mouse chase scene involving the dragon and the dwarves has also been removed.
- Lastly, my major focus beside trimming fat and keeping Bilbo front and center was to maintain tension and suspense in appropriately tense and suspenseful scenes. Jackson had an unfortunate habit of undermining all suspense in the Hobbit trilogy due to constantly switching from one character scene to another, removing any sense of continuity or tension from these admittedly great scenes, if just left to their own devices. As a result, scenes like Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug and the attack on Lake Town are far more streamlined and continuous than in the original trilogy.
It is with with great pleasure that I announce the final cut of The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition, a labor of love that has captivated me for the better part of three years. This final version has taken into account years of constructive criticism and comments from the Tolkien community and is, in my humble opinion, the best way to enjoy The Hobbit as adapted to film. It balances the best of Peter Jackson’s contributions and visual sensibilities while staying as true to the source material as possible.
For those new to The Bilbo Edition, the 1.0 version was cut together prior to extended edition footage being available. The 2.0 version released two years ago cut the film down considerably while integrating newly released extended edition footage. The final 3.0 revisions and tweaks are as follows:
- Both the Stone Giants and troll sequence have been cut down significantly for tone and pace
- Sound irregularities have been touched up and fixed in many scenes, particularly toward the Battle of Five Armies
- Bilbo’s introduction to Gollum and the Ring has been modified to be more faithful to the source material, taking a similar approach to other available edits
- Minor, lingering continuity errors have been fixed
- The Warg attack has been streamlined
- Minor revisions to dialogue here and there for better continuity and flow
My original plan for this fan adaptation was to make the film as easy to view as possible, something that proved exceedingly difficult over the years. Initially, I had created a 15-part breakdown of the film to pair with the Book-to-Film essays that I published with the 1.0 version back in 2015. The host for those 15 video chapters was taken down soon after, and since then I could not find a sufficient method of releasing those chapter segments. With the 3.0 version, I have done my best to execute this original plan with updated material and creative choices.
Consequently, I am pleased to announce that The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0 can be streamed as a complete 4+ hour film through Google Drive, or can be downloaded for best quality. Going even further, for those who do not have the time or desire to watch the entire film in one sitting, you can now watch all 15 chapter segments at your leisure through the same means. That means if you are currently reading The Hobbit to yourself or to a loved one, you can now watch a chapter of the film directly adapted from the source material as you read it! Not only is this method ideal for younger children or those without four hours to spare in one sitting, but helps to hone in on the rich themes and arcs of the individual chapters inherent to the source material. Each of these video chapters are paired with complementary commentary and analysis regarding the source material’s transition from book to film, both in the original Jackson films and regarding my adaptation’s creative take.
I have also taken the liberty in reviewing a few competing fan cuts for those unsure which to invest time into. Though the many fan cuts out there have different creative visions, and different folks will prefer different fan adaptations, I argue here which of the films I think are best and what makes them distinctive from alternative options.
The final product is an high definition, widescreen, 6.57 gigabyte film running at approximately 4.3 hours, accounting for extended edition footage and an untouched credit sequence. This was a labor of love and I hope that Tolkien fans will appreciate the passion and attention to detail that went into this endeavor.
I had three broad goals in mind for this fan adaptation:
- Streamline the bulky 8+ hour trilogy into a single, coherent, narratively rich story that is both faithful to the essence of the source material while still maintaining the best of Peter Jackson’s original contributions and deviations.
- Maintain suspense and tension in iconic scenes and allow for the remarkable acting of all actors involved to shine, particularly that of Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen. Bilbo is the heart and soul of the story and unlike the original trilogy that dodges around him, here he remains front and center as the audience surrogate and the thematically rich protagonist at the core of the story.
- Provide the best possible fan-adaptation that can satisfy both lovers of the original films and lovers of the source material. Although there are other fan-edits that excel in different areas, I truly believe my film is narratively the superior choice amongst the “long-form” fan-adaptations.
(04/25/18 Patch: After numerous reports of an audio sync issue in the first quarter of the film, I’ve re-compressed the file and re-uploaded with a quick 3.1 fix. All audio issues have been corrected and the full film is available again 🙂 )
15-Part Book-to-Film Analysis of The Hobbit
Click the title of the Chapter for an in-depth analysis of the book-to-film translation. Click the time stamp to be taken directly to a streaming, downloadable excerpt of The Bilbo Edition 3.0. For best quality, download at your convenience (all chapter excerpts are under 1 gigabyte)!
Credits / 04:20:45 — 04:33:45
** all page numbers given in the chapter excerpts are from my personal copy of the book, the 1984 illustrated edition featuring the work of Michael Hague. If you experience technical issues while streaming, try refreshing the url or downloading the file directly. 🙂
All footage is property of Warner Bros. Entertainment
Thank you to everyone who has supported this project and given constructive and positive feedback over the years. This is my gift to the Tolkien community and I seek no financial gain from this project.
That said, if you are friends with/are Jeff Bezos, please hire me on as a writing consultant for the new Tolkien-inspired show at Amazon. I know some things.