Thursday, December 22, 2011

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold

Yes, many people are writing about this trailer.  I'm going to do it too - this clip goes almost directly to the reasons that I role-play and that I write this blog.  Heck, it's the reason for the name of the blog.  Well, that and the fact that I live in the interior of British Columbia, which has more misty mountains than Tolkien ever saw in his life.

I should say first off that I've been looking forward to this film, del Toro or no del Toro, I loves me the Hobbit.  In many ways it's a classic gaming story - inexperienced fellow leaves home with a pack of disreputable ruffians.  Group runs across a number of hazards which they are able, often through blind luck or quick thinking, to overcome.  Group finds some treasure, some of which is appropriate for inexperienced fellow, who quickly becomes more experienced.

Allies are gained, confidence grows and eventually the group degenerates into infighting and bickering over treasure, only to temporarily join forces once again when more serious threats appear.  After a certain point, group play gives way to armies, lordships and the death of characters, and the inexperienced fellow goes home older, wiser and saddled with a cursed magic item that he got on a random roll in some dungeon corridor that's too useful for him to get rid of.

So basically, D&D Type 1 as the OSR would have you play it.  For all the chattering about old-school being based on pulp literature, the Hobbit sure reads like role-playing to me.

Better yet, they sing Over the Misty Mountains!  I have ALWAYS loved that song, it captures both the heart of the Tolkien experience, and the essence of the themes I like in fantasy role-playing.  And they totally nail the song, with the dwarves chanting it sonorously and slowly rising to their feet as they sing it.

See, to the dwarves, the song is both a lament and a promise - a lament for the glories of the Kingdom under the Mountain, which glories passed away in fire and horror upon the coming of Smaug, and a promise that they will one day return, to reclaim what is rightfully theirs and rebuild their fallen birthright.  It's as close to religion as the dwarves have, and they capture it pitch-perfectly.  I could watch that trailer 20 times in a row.

Complain about the singing if you want to, but to my mind, it just confirms that you either haven't read the Hobbit, or didn't understand it when you did read it.  The singing is perfect - it makes me shiver the same shiver of joy as I get when Aragorn tells the hobbits, speaking of Amon Sul, "It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West, in the days of the Last Alliance." It's a certain kind of music that catches me just right.  Perfect.

I'm sure the movie will have a few warts and blemishes - but this trailer does more to reassure me about what we can expect from this movie than anything else I've seen or read.  Now if we just didn't have to wait a WHOLE YEAR...