Sep 20 2011 9:14am

Female-Representing or Classic-Tweaking?: The Hobbit Throws a Chick into the Mix

In adapting a book to film, why do filmmakers feel the need to add characters?

Both Game of Thrones and The Hobbit—not too shabby in terms of their cast of personages in their own rights—have each added characters to the filmed version of the works.

In the case of The Hobbit, a female character—to be played by Evangeline Lilly—was added. Lilly is worried she’ll be the “black mark on the film” because of the addition, but continues, “upon reading The Hobbit again, as an adult, I can see why additional characters were needed to round out the story as an adaptation— especially female characters! The Hobbit didn’t include female characters at all and was a very linear story, a book for children, really.”

Maybe; but Tolkein purists (and there are a lot of them!) will likely shriek to the high heaves about the addition.

Are you averse to adding or removing characters from your beloved books? What are the best and worst examples?

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Synde Korman
1. SyndeKorman
I am one of these purists you speak of! The Hobbit is my least favorite of Tolkien's books,( LOTR being my all time fav book evah! yep I can read and write elvish, hobbit, and Cirith...nerd alert) The addition of a woman infuriates me..I mean I get it, it's an unbalenced book, still..NOOOOOO!
I am already slighty peaved that Thorin Oakenshield (played by Mr Armitage himself) is way to hot and young for the elder dwarf.
The casting to me seems a slightly desperate cry out to the "wommen folk" Me no likey..
In closing...
Help me Elbereth...you're my only hope...(movie mash up)
Christopher Morgan
2. cmorgan
Being a Hobbit Purist(puts thick glasses with tape on), mainly because it is straightforward and for children, I really don't like this idea. It's like when I read that they were expanding the Battle of Five Armies to include Bilbo more. The book is about a guy that finds out that there is more in the world and that war is really stupid and petty. Yes, Tolkien was a bit of a mysoginist, ok you have Eowyn in RotK, she was pretty bad ass, but that's it.

It's not like Jackson has a really solid history with adding female roles, it wasn't really an addition but he expanded the role of Arwyn in the last trilogy and the character just came off as flat and uninspired when they stand up to characters like Boromir, Aragorn, Frodo, etc... when you add to what is already accepted as a pinniacle of a genre, things get messy.

Book to Film is tricky because you are messing with what is already accepted as well done.
4. mochabean
Boy, this is a tough one. I am not a LOTR/Hobbit purist, so I don't object in the abstract to the addition of an interesting character who serves the story in a meaningful way. But if the addition is nothing more than box office bait (and the casting of Evangeline Lilly as "Tauriel the Elf" seems to me to be more about reaching the 18-26 year-old male demographic than about "rounding out the story" ) or tokenism, then I am less interested. (Or maybe Peter Jackson just doesn't want to old Rivendell set to go to waste?) But I'll reserve judgment until the movie comes out.

Interesting you mention Game of Thrones, because the addition of Roz and her charms didn't bother me greatly, but didn't thrill me either. She was unnecessary to the plot as far as I could tell, and her flashing Theon from the back of a turnip cart seemed pretty emblematic of her purpose. Meh.
5. ChelseaMueller
Part of me wants to cheer for upping the estrogen quotient, but I can't deny my Tolkien purist nature.

Game of Thrones added in a woman for sex appeal. It worries me that it would be leveraged in a similar manner with The Hobbit. While it would have been nice if Tolkien had tossed in a strong lady or two, he didn't -- and the book wasn't lacking as a result.

So, I'm siding with @SyndeKorman and @cmorgan on this one.
Megan Frampton
6. MFrampton
Hey all--I was actually (and I shoulda referenced this in the original post!) talking about a season 2 bit of casting news: They've added a character named Alton Lannister to the series. The Roz bit was expanded from the "red-headed whore" person in the books, if I recall. Not just spun out of whole cloth.
Lisa Cox
7. brontëgirl
Will somebody tell Peter Jackson that this is not Snow White?!
Regina Thorne
9. reginathorn
Why do I have the uneasy feeling that the made-up female Elf character is going to be some sort of love interest for the completely different-from-the-book hot Thorin Oakenshield? (And will they decide NOT to change Thorin's story at the end?) Unless Mirkwood turns out to be ruled by an Elven Queen instead of Legolas's Papa, and that's where she comes in, but my chief problem with the addition of this new character is that she's played by Evangeline Lilly, and ... just NO! (Also, in re: Alton Lannister - I think he's probably a character who does exist in the books - either one of the Lannister squires who was, in the book, captured alongside Jaime at the Whispering Wood battle and whose fate was determined by Lord Karstark OR he's the renamed traveling companion of two interesting characters from Storm of Swords. I say no more for fear of spoiling people!! But they did just rename a Greyjoy from Asha to Yarra as well, so they do seem to that from time to time. I don't think there's any character made up out of whole cloth with the exception of Ros the annoying and Zelig-like comfort lady of Season 1. And I hope we see a LOT less of her!)
10. mochabean
Or maybe Alton Lannister gives technical but easy to understand instructions for making lemon cakes or preparing stallion hearts for eating, but his wacky characters can be annoying. He also judges "Iron Chef: Westeros"
11. jakee308
Peter Jackson did well by leaving LOTR mostly alone.

I assume this is a done deal so I can state flatly that I won't be seeing it or buying any dvd and will recommend to anyone to not bother.

I predict that Jackson and his writers and this person being cast will rue the day they did this.
12. Her comment was daft.
Ok Lily: You don't tell an author (living or dead) with a specific vision and story to tell that your paltry addition to a movie was necessary because his work "needed to be rounded out." That's not only arrogant, it's ignorant. Since she notes that " 'The Hobbit didn’t include female characters at all and was a very linear story, a book for children, really' ” how does that support adding female characters and undermine linear children's stories without them? Does all literature need women in it? Is anyone clamboring to add women to, say, Mody Dick or Lord of the Flies? While those novel are, of course, in wholly different genres, we're still talking about literature, and if you're going to frack with literature, don't make it into films.
13. Frank
Tolkien's The Hobbit was perfect without changing anything. This is like adding a female character to Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of 'The Last Supper' to 'round it out'. Movies have become so politically correct nowadays! Got to have hot females running around in tight spandex kicking the bejeebers out of men 3 times their size. Sheesh! Let's redo 'all' the classics! Peter Jackson is just trying to put more bums in the seats.
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