Small Acts & Unexpected Heroes

The Hobbit opens December 14th

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By Robyn Lee


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of a trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson opening in theaters December 14th. The film follows the adventures of the character Bilbo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit.

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, the tale starts out with the Wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), recruiting Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) to join a company of 13 Dwarves to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the Dragon Smaug.

 

For the journey to be successful, Gandalf advises the dwarves that they need a burglar; someone who could sneak into Erebor undetected. Gandalf likes the idea of a Hobbit because Dragons aren’t familiar with their smell.

 

When the dwarves arrive on the scene they are doubtful about whether Bilbo is capable of making this journey. In fact, Bilbo is doubtful of himself. He is uncomfortable with the idea of adventures with dragons and he is faced with the challenge of deciding whether he is ready to accept the dangerous task of joining their company.

 

I think we are can all relate to the struggle that Bilbo is facing. We get comfortable with our routine and almost complacent with our lives until God offers the challenge to strengthen our faith. He may be asking us to follow his will by changing careers, being open to having another child or even going on an impossible mission to battle a dragon. But whatever God is calling us to; it requires trusting him and taking a huge leap of faith.

 

Bilbo is left to discern whether he should help the dwarves on this seemingly impossible task or stay safe in the Shire. We recognize that sometimes God asks us to step outside our comfort zone, but he does not abandon us. He gives us the courage to carry out his plan.

 

Gandalf recognizes that Bilbo is essential to this company, but he, nor the dwarves, can promise his safety. Ian McKellen recalls the scene when Bilbo asks Gandalf, “‘Am I going to come back? Can you promise that?’ And [Gandalf] had to say no. Not many commanders would say that to their soldiers," says McKellen. "It is a chilling, but heartwarming moment.”

 

Martin Freeman reflects on Bilbo’s decision to join the company despite the danger and the unlikelihood of his safe return. “It’s a pivotal thing for Bilbo and the audience to realize that he still chooses to go on this journey having had that very honest appraisal by the man [Gandalf] who is going to take him. If you do come back, you won’t be the same, which is also a very scary prospect for most people, and certainly most Hobbits. But he still chooses to go. I think that is quite touching.”

 

The quiet courage and unlikely bravery of Bilbo Baggins builds upon a bigger theme of the importance of simple acts that make a big impact. At the White Council, Lady Galadriel asks Gandalf why he brought a Hobbit on such a dangerous adventure. Gandalf explains that the goodness of everyday folk and the simple acts of kindness are what dispel the darkness. Those small acts are as powerful as great acts of heroism. This theme is the heart of the entire story.

 

Tolkien’s themes of humanity are major highlights in the film. Richard Armitage, who plays Dwarf King, Thorin Oakenshield, goes on to say: “one of the things that I really find when I look at that book is, I can get a sense of Tolkien’s Catholicism, his kind of Christianity … in terms of his chivalric view of the world, his nobility which is expressed through kindness and mercy. I think that pervades all of his writing and it’s in almost all of his characters and I find that inspiring.”

 

The Hobbit, opening December 14, will take you on a magical journey to Middle Earth. I really enjoyed it and I plan to see it again. Are you planning to see it? Check back here and let me know what you thought of the film (Click "add a comment" at the top of the page).

Robyn Lee

Robyn Lee is Managing Editor of Catholic Digest.