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The first Hobbit trilogy fan edit is here, with a long list of huge improvements

Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy adds many elements that weren't in the original — and pleasantly slim — novel. The three movies have a few memorable scenes, but may be too long to provide an enjoyable interpretation of the original work. Too much content that tied this film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was crammed in, and the fan edits were inevitable. The first one is here.

"My main goals in undertaking this edit were to re-centre the story on Bilbo, and to have the narrative move at a much brisker pace (though not so fast that the audience lost grasp of what was going on)," the edit's creator, calling themselves "Tolkien Editor," stated. "Creating smooth transitions between scenes was of particular importance in this regard. I even reordered a few moments in the film to make it flow better."

The barrel ride sequence was particularly tricky, he claimed, due to the fact Legolas and Tauriel kept coming into frame. Tauriel has been completely removed in this version of the trilogy, and Legolas is only given a cameo. Thank the maker.

Here are a few more details about the edits made:

  • The Pale Orc subplot is vastly trimmed down. Azog is obviously still leading the attack on the Lonely Mountain at the end, but he does not appear in the film until after the company escapes the goblin tunnels (suggesting that the slaying of the Great Goblin is a factor in their vendetta, as it was in the novel).
  • Several of the Laketown scenes have been cut, such as Bard’s imprisonment and the superfluous orc raid. However, I’ve still left quite a bit of this story-thread intact, since I felt it succeeded in getting the audience to care about the down-beaten fisherfolk and the struggles of Bard to protect them.
  • The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world. It is far more elegant to first learn about Smaug from the dwarves’ haunting ballad (rather than a bombastic CGI sequence). The prelude also undermines the real-and-present stakes of the story by framing it as one big flashback.

The quality isn't great, since the editor began with 720-by-576 resolution MP4 files for the source material. This is arguably a transformative work, although it's very likely that the blog post and any direct links to the torrents will be removed shortly. If you're curious, I'd act now.

The quality of these edits will likely increase once the Blu-ray versions of all three films are released commercially and the editors have better source material from which to begin chopping up the film.

One last thought, from Twitter:

Polygon Video Archives: Middle-Earth - Shadow of Mordor Gameplay and Interview from E3 2014

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