Theology of Film: The Hobbit pt. 1

It happened nearly a decade ago for me. The first Lord of the Rings series supplanted the original Star Wars  as my favorite nerd trilogy. The prequels to Star Wars definitely helped that series lose its title. Poor writing and the dumbing down of one of the greatest villans of all time were huge factors. From that moment on, Lord of the Rings stood above the rest as the great nerd narrative.

The only issue I have with “The Hobbit” is that it should have been made before Lucas revisited the SW galaxy because it might have challenged him to make a better product. “The Hobbit” does everything right when it comes to adding onto a legendary franchise. It is faithful to the source material and it shows a strong cohesive bond to the original trilogy.

The return to Middle Earth is both familiar and fresh. The return of many beloved characters brings nostalgia and gives more insight to them without feeling like they were completely remade as characters.

Howard Shore returned to score the movie and it is filled with familiar musical themes and melodies but it brings in some new elements and melodies as well. Perhaps the strongest of the new musical tracks is the dark chant sung by the dwarves while in Bilbo’s home before leaving on their great journey.


When Tolkien (a devout Christian) wrote “The Hobbit” he wrote it as a children’s book. As a result it was a lighter book then the trilogy that would later follow. Even though it was a kid’s book it was heavy on spiritual themes. I’ll try to tackle some of them over a series of posts but for today I want to stick with one major theme of “The Hobbit”.too brings in old melodies and themes while adding too the lore instead of trying to rewrite it. Perhaps my favorite of the new material is the chant the dwarves sing before setting off on their journey. He has again created a soundtrack that will stick with me (and my iPod) for a long time.

Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo Baggins: You can promise that I will come back?
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.

Bilbo is afraid to go on an adventure because good hobbits don’t do that sort of thing. They are thought of as odd so they instead choose the path of least resistance – which is to do nothing. Though he at first doesn’t want to go on an adventure there is something within Bilbo that will not allow him to be still. He is compelled to action, to do something, to be a part of something.

The idea of being transformed by adventure is a huge them of both “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogies. How is this idea of adventure Scriptural though?

The call to follow Jesus is also a call to adventure. When Jesus called his disciples away from their jobs and lives it wasn’t a call to just simply become people who watched Jesus. It was a call to adventure. A call to get their hands dirty. A call to do something with their lives and have a tale or two to tell.

The call to follow Jesus was not and is not a safe call but it is a rewarding one. Most adventures are. They can be filled with danger, wether those dangers are things like dragons, trolls, spiders and goblins or those dangers are religious leaders, shipwrecks and controlling empires.

The great thing about what we see in “The Hobbit” and the Christian life is that as we follow in the adventure we are changed in something more than we thought we could ever be but once that change happens we realize then that we are becoming who we were meant to be.

When we watch “The Hobbit” it should be a reminder that the call to be a Christian isn’t a spectator invitation. Bilbo wasn’t invited to be a part of Thorin’s party then left at home. He had to pack up, get dirty, and get involved.

Our call to follow Jesus is the same. We need to get off the couch and stop pretending to be a part of the adventure and instead start living it.

Will it be safe? No. But we will have a tale or two to tell.

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