The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug

New Line Cinema has registered the title The Hobbit: Into the Fire, reports The One Ring, sparking speculation that the third instalment in The Hobbit trilogy will be given a new title.

So far Peter Jackson has used film titles referencing the book, The Hobbit:An Unexpected Journey is a nod to An Unexpected Party, the first chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Desolation of Smaug references the wasteland that is Smaug’s domain. There and Back Again, the original title for the last film, is the title of the book Bilbo Baggins wrote chronicling his adventures and later taken over by his nephew Frodo, who wrote The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.

The final film has had the title There and Back Again even when there were plans for only for two films. While there is speculation Into the Fire could be a reference to the chapter six title, Out Of The Frying-Pan Into The Fire, we are already many chapters past those events. The Desolation of Smaug ended around chapter fourteen, which also references fire, Fire and Water. But The Hobbit: Into the Fire? I’m not convinced. New Line have also previously registered the title The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, which has yet to be used, so I would expect this is an idea for a video game title.

The Red Book of Westmarch

Frodo writing The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King

Frodo writing The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King

Peter Jackson may take a lot of liberties with the original text but he is still a fan and a nerd at heart, and we saw several references to The Red Book of Westmarch in the Lord of the Rings movies. The Red Book of Westmarch is a fictional manuscript  created by J.R.R Tolkien which he used as his ‘source’ for his writings on the history of Middle Earth. Tolkien, being Tolkien, then created a rather fantastic history for the book itself.

“I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”

The Red Book begins with Bilbo Baggins, who recorded his memoirs There and Back Again in a red leather-bound diary. He later expanded his memoirs into a record of the events from The Lord of the Rings, leaving his notes to Frodo to organise and complete. Bilbo had also translated material from Elvish lore from the Elder Days. This work, Translations from the Elvish, by B.B., comprised three volumes, also bound in red leather. After the defeat of Sauron Bilbo gave these volumes to Frodo. Frodo then completed The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.

After Bilbo and Frodo left for Valinor, the book passed to Samwise Gamgee. Sam then left the books in the care of his eldest daughter, Elanor Fairbairn, who left the books to her descendants. A fifth volume containing Hobbit genealogical tables and commentaries was added by her descendants. This collection of writings is collectively called the Red Book of Westmarch.

Tolkien says the original Red Book of Westmarch was not preserved. Several copies, with various notes and later additions, were made. The first copy was made by request of Aragorn, now King Elessar of Gondor, the book brought to Gondor by Pippin, now Thain Peregrin I. The copy was written by Findegil, one of the King’s scribes. Pippin and Merry, who were then residing in Gondor, contributed history on the realms of Gondor, Rohan and Arnor. An abbreviated version of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen was added by Faramir’s grandson Barahir. This copy, heavily annotated and expanded, was later known as the Thain’s Book. Tolkien says this copy was important because it alone contained the whole of Bilbo’s Translations from the Elvish.

This version is the book that Tolkien ‘used’ for his history of Middle Earth, with Bilbo and Frodo’s writings making up The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, Bilbo’s translations becoming The Silmarillion, Hobbit poetry and legends possibly written by Samwise becoming The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and the appendices of the Lord of the Rings from the many other contributions to the book.

Although Jackson alludes to Bilbo beginning the book in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this was of course long before The Hobbit movies were planned, and I expect we’ll see another glimpse of the Red Book in the final Hobbit film.

Bilbo working on There and Back Again

Bilbo working on There and Back Again

About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

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