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Is using Frodo to create a ‘Hobbit'-'LOTR’ connection a bad idea?

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This afternoon the studio behind ‘The Hobbit’ confirmed that (and the Lord of the Rings fan site The One Ring explained how) Elijah Wood will reprise his Frodo role for a small part at the beginning of Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit,’ which centers on Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins.

According to the J.R.R. Tolkien mythology, the fictional ‘Red Book of Westmarch’ tells the story of both ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘LOTR.’ Frodo is an author on the book, and he’ll appear in ‘The Hobbit’ (which takes place about 60 years before the ‘LOTR’ trilogy begins) setting up the story that happened lo those decades before. ‘The fictional book, and either the telling from it or the reading of it, will establish Frodo in the films experiencing Bilbo [Baggins’] story,’ says The One Ring.

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This might all seem like Jackson is tossing a little something to the devotees, an Easter egg for those initiates who see Tolkien’s worlds as connected.

But in reality it may well be the opposite: this is a move aimed mainly at the average moviegoer. ‘Lord of the Rings’ was hugely popular even among people who’d never read a word of Tolkien, so a little link to the original trilogy, the thinking seems to go, wouldn’t hurt to get audiences into the two ‘Hobbit’ films.

For Tolkien devotees, though, the news may be less exciting. Frodo doesn’t appear before the ‘Lord of the Rings’ so the cameo could be considered unnecessary. And in fact, putting characters into a context where they never existed before could ruffle feathers.

On the whole this seems like a harmless indulgence, and Peter Jackson has earned the trust of Tolkien purists.

Still, the Tolkien-loving public has an all-seeing eye, and expectations from the franchise can be as daunting as, well, the burden of the ring itself.

--Steven Zeitchik and Jevon Phillips

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT


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