Don’t give Peter Jackson all the credit. He wasn’t the first to desire an adult version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s story The Hobbit. According to author and scholar Colin Duriez, it was actually Tolkien himself who initially had the vision.
Tolkien wrote The Hobbit for children in the early 1930s. It wasn’t until the mid 1950s that he published its trilogy sequel for adults, The Lord of the Rings. Adults were so drawn to Tolkien’s work that late in life, he dreamed of re-writing The Hobbit for adults, drawing in the darker tone from his later stories. Yet he died in 1973 with the dream yet unfulfilled.
Now enter Peter Jackson, who is doing for the big screen what Tolkien never was able to do in writing.
Great Themes Deep Within Tolkien
Whether you’ve already battled the crowds to see The Desolation of Smaug, or are waiting till the theaters thin out, or are simply a fan of Tolkien’s books, we want to enhance your Christian experience of the story. We solicited help from Duriez and author Devin Brown to point us to the Christian themes deep within Tolkien.
Which is precisely what Tolkien would have us do. As much as any writer, he carefully crafted his tales for the profound spiritual effect they would have on the reader. He means for us to be deeply affected. He means for his story, set in a “secondary world” called Middle Earth, to give us a certain experience, a kind of deep joy and satisfaction, that draws from the “primary world” in which we live.
In this 3-minute video, Brown addresses the latent, rather than patent, Christianity that Tolkien has pressed into the fabric of his tales. He also tackles the theme of “luck” in The Hobbit — which points beyond mere coincidence to an invisible hand behind the entirety of the story. As Gandalf says to Bilbo on the last page of The Hobbit, “You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?”
According to Duriez, a great theme, deep within Tolkien, is that good and evil are not equals. In this 3-minute video, he addresses not only the question of whether we should read the book before seeing the movie, but he digs up for us this dazzling Christian theme.
Also, from Duriez, see “J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and Making ‘The Hobbit’ Darker” (3 minutes) and “Where ‘The Hobbit’ Came From” (5 minutes).
Full list of resources from Desiring God on The Hobbit:
“Luck” and Latent Christianity in Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ (Devin Brown)
How the Harrowing Journey Profits the Hobbit (Devin Brown)
Where ‘The Hobbit’ Came From (Colin Duriez)
How to Watch ‘The Hobbit’ (David Mathis)
The Allure of Middle-Earth (Tony Reinke)