Back when I was young, the first chapter of The Hobbit was boring for me. It seemed to go on and on with little point whatsoever, and in fact on rereads I usually skipped over it and started with Chapter 2. Now that I am older, I find a lot of merit in the first chapter of the book, and I find that it really fleshes out the mythology of Middle Earth and sets the stakes for the journey Bilbo is about to be pushed into.
When anticipating the movie adaptation, I wondered how the filmmakers would approach the chapter. In the 1977 animated version, the entire chapter is over in ten minutes, and even though it is rushed, it still gets the idea across and sets the stakes. The movie takes a slower pace with this, and goes the route of the book by having the Dwarves arrive in groups to Bilbo’s house rather than all at once like they do in the animated version. This sets the lighthearted tone for the story, as a bunch of Dwarves entering Bilbo’s house one after the other and eating his food is pretty funny.
The differences between the book’s portrayal of the party and the movie’s portrayal are very minor. The most major one is the arrival of Thorin after the Dwarves have finished partying and fooling around, whereas in the book he actually joins them in this partying. I personally like this change, as I feel that it shows the audience how important of a character Thorin is.
Of course, I have cut some footage from this section, though in comparison to some of the other parts of the movie, it is relatively little, showing how much care went into the adaptation of this chapter by the filmmakers alone.
What I have done is shortened up the opening of the film, so that the first words Bilbo writes in his book are, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” just like in the actual book, and then I have jumped directly into the story. While the flashback sequence from the original movie was very good, it ruins what should be a complete surprise for the audience when the Dwarves arrive at Bilbo’s house later in the movie. We, as the audience, should be viewing the story from Bilbo’s eyes, and experience his feelings with him.
I have also cut Frodo from the film apart from a brief (non-speaking) cameo. Frodo’s appearance in the film only serves as fan service the fans of the earlier Lord of the Rings films. I find this kind of pointless, as Gandalf is already a major character in film, and he would be fan service enough. Also, it creates a continuity error, because in the extended edition of the LOTR trilogy, it is made clear that Old Bilbo does not know that Frodo has gone away to wait for Gandalf, whereas in The Hobbit movie, Frodo tells him that he’s going to wait for Gandalf, and Bilbo sees him run off. I have cut all of this, and just gone directly into the story, which hopefully has a much better pace than the original film did.
One addition that I really liked about the movies was Gandalf’s line about how Bilbo used to have an adventurous spirit back when he was a kid, and how he has now lost it. Despite not being in the book, I love this change, and I think it speaks to hundreds of people who longed for adventure as children. There are a few details from the book that I would have liked to hear (such as more about Bilbo’s family), but that movie does very well as an adaptation. I have added a scene from the extended edition where we see Bilbo in the Shire marketplace, as audiences who haven’t seen LOTR should see a little bit of hobbit life before Bilbo goes on his adventure. If I were to change anything else, I would add in Bilbo inviting Gandalf over for tea, as I was never a fan of the fact that Gandalf just invited himself in the movie (it made him seem kind of rude in my opinion). Unfortunately, there is no available footage of Bilbo doing this, so I’ve had to keep this moment as is. But, other than that, I think that how I have edited that this chapter is the best it is going to get in an adaptation.