Watch: The Sad Story Behind Why 'The Hobbit' Movies Were a Mess
Wow. This is crazy. There's a video going around online from the special features of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies that is one of the most honest looks at filmmaking I've ever seen. It features extensive footage and interviews of the entire crew of The Hobbit trilogy, from director Peter Jackson to all of his various staff including script supervisor, production designer and set decorator talking about how they all had no idea what they were doing with these movies. It's a very sad, remarkably rare look at how hard it is to make a massive movie on this scale, and how much stress there is on a director. Having finally watched this video, I just keep wondering: how the heck did this get made and actually released to the public? Amazing.
I am still so stunned by this. The shot of Jackson at the 3:30 mark where it zooms out is incredible. That's the moment where I felt like - this is Hearts of Darkness, a brutally honest look at the making of a troubled trilogy. The video is out of context within the bigger picture - they do return and finish making The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and that's what the Extended Edition is - the complete cut. Not that it's that good in the end anyway. I remember thinking to myself while watching these that they just don't have that same magical feeling as the Lord of the Rings films, and I couldn't quite figure out why. Well now we know.
Watch the full featurette titled as The Problem with The Battle of Five Armies, direct from YouTube:
Thanks to The Verge for the tip on this. I finally caught up and watched this video and had to say something about it, because I was so taken back by it. Everyone is throwing around that "I don't know what the hell I was doing" quote from Peter Jackson, but there's so many other things I was thinking about. For example - during the release of these movies throughout 2012 to 2014, they were also putting out those 10-minute production blogs online. Thinking back, they must have been very creatively edited to find footage that only showed everyone looking happy. They were able to craft an "everything is going great!" narrative while the actual reality, we now know, was very different. I wish there was even more of this honest footage available.
It's such a fascinating inside look at the process on making such a large scale cinematic epic like this. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and have been grappling with my feelings about The Hobbit trilogy ever since I saw the first one (An Unexpected Journey) in a half-empty theater on opening night. I was hoping maybe, like with the LOTR trilogy, the final movie would be the best of the bunch but it's kind of the opposite (I still like the first the most). After years of being unsure, this video provides some clarity and allows me to say, very sadly, that unfortunately these movies aren't that great; they are a mess. They did their best, there are some wonderful moments and everyone who worked on them gave it their all. But now we know the truth.